YouTube has long been an incredibly valuable platform for content creators of all sorts, but historically has not been compatible with RSS feeds in the way that podcast-specific apps like Apple Podcasts and Spotify have. However, with recent developments on YouTube's end, RSS feeds are now supported within their system.
This is potentially excellent news for your show! However, there are a number of caveats worth noting before making the decision to distribute your feed to YouTube. Be sure to read through this information below thoroughly before taking any action.
How Is YouTube Different From Other Listening Apps?
There are a number of ways in which YouTube functions very differently from the vast majority of podcast listening apps. Some of those ways may affect if and how quickly you want to distribute your show there.
Because YouTube is a video-first platform, unlike other, more audio-centric listening apps, it allows for Episode artwork that is formatted as 16:9 (rectangle) as opposed to the standard 1:1 (square) artwork used by most apps. You're not required to add 16:9 artwork, but you do have the option to do so. For shows without 16:9 artwork, your normal 1:1 artwork will be used automatically.
💡 Note: If you do intend to use 16:9 artwork for your episodes, we highly recommend adding it prior to distributing your feed in the Show Settings. For individual episodes, you can update at a later time directly in YouTube.
To add default 16:9 artwork at the episode level , click on the GEAR ICON in the upper lefthand corner dropdown menu. This will take you to the SHOW SETTINGS page, where you can upload the 16:9 artwork just beneath the main show artwork.
You can add specific 16:9 artwork at the episode level when creating a new episode or editing and existing episode.
This is arguably the most notable difference between YouTube's RSS feed compatibility and that of other listening apps. Typically, whenever you make any changes to an already published episode, whether that be a change to your show notes, title, artwork, or even your audio file, the various listening apps will recognize the change and update accordingly.
With YouTube, however, that won't all be the case. While any changes to your Episode Title and Episode Notes will update automatically, like normal, if you want to update your Episode artwork on an already distributed episode, you need to make that change directly in YouTube Studio. Also if you need to upload a new audio file to an episode it needs to be done in YouTube Studio and it will create a brand new listing on YouTube. This means any views (or listens, as it were) and comments on the existing version of the episode will be reset. The only way to update the audio file to the YouTube version of your Episode is to manually change the audio file within YouTube Studio. Bear in mind though, this will not update the audio file in your RSS feed.
💡 Note: If you regularly update the audio files for your episodes, you'll need to really consider whether or not YouTube distribution is right for your show.
YouTube also handles monetization differently than most apps. To comply with YouTube’s Terms of Service, podcast content you upload to YouTube cannot contain advertisements. If your podcast includes paid promotions (like host-read promotions), sponsorships, or endorsements, you’re required to notify them and comply with all applicable policies.
To declare paid promotions, you can either:
Check the paid promotion box on your podcast details page, or
Update the video settings on the video details page.
Also, YouTube does not allow for programmatic, or dynamically inserted ads in your episodes. Ads that are baked into your episode audio are allowed, per the requirements mentioned above, but dynamically inserted ads are not compatible with YouTube's RSS feed ingestion.
💡 Note: Rather than disabling dynamic ad insertion, we recommend using an ad-free version of your feed. Learn how to generate an ad-free version of your feed here.
The items listed above should be given considerable consideration prior to distributing your show to YouTube. However, this list is not exhaustive. There are a number of other ways YouTube functions differently from the majority of listening apps on the market. Before moving forward, we'd recommend reviewing YouTube's FAQs thoroughly so as to make as informed a decision as possible, and ultimately, hopefully save yourself a significant amount of potential extra work. You can review their FAQ here.
Additionally, we also recommend reviewing this article from Podnews about YouTube analytics.
If and when you're ready to move forward with distributing your RSS feed to YouTube, this video will guide you through the process:
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Still have questions? We'd be happy to answer them. You can reach our Support Team at firstname.lastname@example.org!