Twitter is becoming a podcast app

Twitter is becoming a podcast app

Twitter is officially getting into podcasts. The app will launch a test version of Twitter Spaces today that includes podcasts, letting you listen to full shows through curated playlists based on your interests.

The redesigned Spaces tab opens with Stations, topic-based playlists combining podcast episodes pulled from RSS with Twitter’s social audio events and recordings. It functions like a Pandora station but for spoken word and is pretty different from the a la carte listening podcast consumers are used to on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Live and upcoming spaces are still in the tab, further down the page. The test will roll out to a random group of users across the world, initially only in English.

Twitter’s podcast interface on an iPhone.
Image: Twitter

The more users listen, the more tailored the audio Stations will become. But Twitter isn’t starting from square one — the company is relying on what it already knows about its users’ interests to curate the playlists. It’ll draw from the interests of people they follow, as well. “What we’re really trying to capture here is as if it’s like another user recommending you something,” Twitter senior product manager Evan Jones, who focuses on audio, told Hot Pod.

Podcast discovery is notoriously difficult, limited either to top 100 charts, hand-picked selections on apps, or — more often than not — word of mouth. No platform has managed to crack it, yet.

It’s easy to imagine the promotional possibilities around being able to share and listen to podcasts in the same app, but it’s not quite there yet. The test does not yet have a clipping capability, and listening can only happen in the Spaces tab, not on the timeline. That being said, Spaces has a clipping feature that could be applied to podcasts at some point.

One of Twitter’s new Stations, featuring podcasts and social audio.
Image: Twitter

Twitter and podcasts could be a fruitful fit. Twitter Spaces, which launched in 2020 on the heels of Clubhouse’s pandemic success, already gives the app a foothold in audio. Jones said that, based on company data, 45 percent of Twitter users are also monthly podcast listeners (given how news-oriented Twitter is, that makes a lot of sense). Meanwhile, data uncovered by tech sleuths earlier this year revealed that Twitter was experimenting with a podcast tab.

That turned out to be partially true. “We were testing out different ideas,” Jones said. “As we were whittling down the stone, we came to this, but podcasts were always going to be part of Spaces.”

Jones would not say when users can expect an official launch, but he said the final version of the feature would be influenced by how people respond to the test. If you are one of the selected guinea pigs, feel free to hit me up about your experience!

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