Google Podcasts – friend or foe to radio?

Radio Tomorrow with James Cridland

The radio industry has been slowly incorporating podcasting into its mix: both as a useful way of promoting some of our key talent, and increasingly as a way to get closer to clients by producing branded podcasts for them. Increasingly, sales teams are representing podcast networks as well as radio stations.

Last week, we were handed a gift from Google: as the search giant finally got into podcasting in a big way. They finally launched their podcasting app – Google Podcasts; and it’s already installed in hundreds of millions of Android phones.

This is important because Android represente over 80% of the global market in smartphones; and even in strong Apple countries like the US and Australia, Android still has around a 50% share.

Even now, 74% of Americans don’t listen to podcasts; so proper, inbuilt Android support is a significant doorway to making podcasting a mass media: something that has been eluding the industry for a while.

Part of the issue with podcasting has been that podcasters have had one simple place to link-to for Apple Podcasts. That’s guaranteed to work on any Apple iPhone or iPod Touch; because the Apple Podcasts app has been pre-installed for many years.

Now, we’ve the equivalent for Android phones: a link to play a podcast on Google Podcasts will, on an Android phone, just work. The podcast app is part of the Google Search app, which is installed on every new Android phone.

Additionally, Google have added a few Google smarts. First, the app itself – you can install an icon for it from the Google Play Store – has recommendations in it, as you’d expect; but they’re based on your listening. I listened to one episode of Christian O’Connell’s breakfast show from a radio station in Melbourne, and it recommended other podcasts I might enjoy (including Ricky Gervais’s show from SiriusXM). It also recommended more podcasts from the MouthMedia Network, a podcast publisher I’ve also listened to.

Probably the most interesting step is that a Google websearch now highlights podcasts, with a little ‘play’ button. That allows frictionless listening directly from a search result: so if you search for anything you’re interested in, you might get audio as well as a web page.

All this leads to the inevitable question: is a significant addition to the podcast landscape like this going to erode radio listening?

Or is it a great opportunity – allowing on-demand radio, in the form of podcasting, to reach many more people?

In any case, if you need it, I’ve written an FAQ about Google Podcasts, and what your station should do next, over on my podcasting newsletter website, Podnews.

About The Author

James Cridland, the radio futurologist, is a conference speaker, writer and consultant. He runs the media information website and helps organise the yearly Next Radio conference. He also publishes, a daily briefing on podcasting and on-demand, and writes a weekly international radio trends newsletter, at

Contact James at [email protected] or @jamescridland