Twitter officially starts podcasting. The app is launching a test version of Twitter Spaces today that includes podcasts so you can listen to full shows through curated playlists based on your interests.
The redesigned Rooms tab opens with Stations, topic-based playlists that combine RSS podcast episodes with Twitter’s social audio events and recordings. It functions like a Pandora station, but for spoken word, and is quite different from the a la carte listening podcast consumers are used to on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Live and upcoming spaces are still on the tab, further down the page. The test will be rolled out to a random group of users around the world, initially only in English.
The more users listen, the more customized the audio stations will become. But Twitter doesn’t start at the beginning – the company relies on what it already knows about its users’ interests to build its playlists. It will also draw on the interests of the people they follow. “What we’re really trying to capture here is like having another user recommend something to you,” said Twitter senior product manager, Evan Jones, who focuses on audio. Hot Pod.
Discovering podcasts is notoriously difficult, limited to top 100 charts, hand-picked selections on apps, or — more often than not — word of mouth. No platform has yet managed to crack it.
It’s easy to imagine the promotion opportunities 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 clipping capability and listening can only be done on the Spaces tab, not on the timeline. That said, Spaces has a clipping feature that can be applied to podcasts at some point.
Twitter and podcasts can be a fruitful combination. Launched in 2020 on the heels of Clubhouse’s pandemic success, Twitter Spaces is already giving 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-centric 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 partly true. “We were testing different ideas,” Jones said. “While we were chopping the stone, we came to this, but podcasts would always be part of Spaces.”
Jones wouldn’t say when users can expect an official launch, but he said the final version of the feature would be affected by how people respond to the test. If you are one of the selected guinea pigs, feel free to call me about your experience!