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Facebook is pulling out of its foray into podcasting

Facebook’s interest in podcasts is waning, barely a year after its debut. Last April, during a hot market for audio, Facebook launched Live Audio Rooms, short stories called Soundbites and podcasts for US users. The company has signed deals with creators and sponsored one of the industry’s largest US conferences: Podcast Movement. Facebook product managers have even appeared on the long-running industry program “New Media Show” to encourage podcasters to join the platform.

But these days the company is emphasizing other initiatives in conversations with podcast partners, including events in the metaverse and online shopping, according to industry executives who work with the platform. . They asked not to be identified because their discussions with Facebook have not been made public.

Facebook’s waning interest in podcasting is a disappointment to some in the growing industry because the scale of its platform offers a large potential audience, and with it, the possibility of more ad revenue. Instead, parent company Meta Platforms Inc. is turning its attention to metaverse and short-video projects amid growing competition and a precipitous drop in its stock price.

A Facebook spokesperson said the company was still working on podcasts even though it was accelerating work on priority features such as Reels and Feed. The company is seeing good engagement for its audio products, according to the spokesperson, who declined to provide details.

audio mania

Facebook’s move to audio, in some ways, seemed inevitable. He did this during a moment of audio mania last year, when the Clubhouse live audio platform was valued at $4 billion and every tech company wanted to copy its product. Spotify Technology SA had a market value of more than $50 billion a year ago, double what it is today, and Amazon.com Inc. was signing major audio deals. So when Facebook said it was introducing audio experiences, no one was entirely surprised.

To break into the space, the company also considered launching a training program to bring creators to the platform. Steph Colbourn, the founder and CEO of Editaudio, said a group working with Facebook floated the idea of ​​paying her to train about 15 podcasters from diverse backgrounds on how to create their shows and use the platform, but that never followed. the idea.

Then, after sponsoring Podcast Movement in August, Facebook did not sponsor the conference spin-off event in March and did not send a single person to attend, according to the event’s attendee list.

At the same time, some initial Live Audio Rooms partners no longer host conversations and their offers have not been renewed. Civil rights activist DeRay McKesson, for example, signed an initial six-show deal, which he says went well. But his contract was not renewed.

New priorities

In another sign of shifting priorities, a prominent podcast product manager at Facebook, Irena Lam, appears to have shifted to a music-focused role, according to her LinkedIn page.

But even Facebook’s limited podcasting efforts have been a source of growth for some content providers. TYT Network, which produces political programming, said Facebook is its second most popular listening platform after Apple Podcasts. The network added podcast content to Facebook in September and since then the platform has contributed “hundreds of thousands of additional monthly plays”, according to chief marketing officer Praveen Singh. That’s double the audience TYT gets on Spotify, she said.