Facebook is shutting down its podcast service on June 3 barely a year after its launch. The social media giant told TechCrunch that it's also going to discontinue its short-form audio Soundbites feature and its Audio hub in the coming weeks. Facebook will also integrate its Live Audio Rooms offering, which is its Clubhouse clone, into its Facebook Live experience. The company says this integration will allow for a more streamlined experience so that users will have the option to go live with audio and video, video only or audio only.
"After a year of learning and iterating on audio-first experiences, we’ve decided to simplify our suite of audio tools on Facebook," a spokesperson from Meta told TechCrunch. "We’re integrating Live Audio Rooms into Facebook Live and we will discontinue our other audio products. We’re constantly evaluating the features we offer so we can focus on the most meaningful experiences.”
An email sent to podcasters on Facebook indicates that existing podcasts will remain available and new episodes will continue to publish until June 3. Starting today, users won't be able to link or publish any new podcasts.
In April 2021, Facebook announced a suite of new audio products, including new support for podcasts and its Clubhouse live audio competitor, which was an indication that it was taking the threat from other audio platforms more seriously. Now, barely a year after Facebook began its foray into podcasting and audio features, the company is moving on from them.
A recent report from Bloomberg indicates that Facebook’s parent company Meta is said to be prioritizing short-video projects above other initiatives, likely due to increasing competition from popular short-form video app TikTok. This claim is seen in the social media giant's email to users about shutting down podcasts, as it encourages them to start using Reels.
"Your voices and stories have inspired us and we remain committed to helping you reach and grow your audiences," the email reads. "For example, we are seeing podcast-related content being developed in video, Reels and Live to engage and grow audiences." The email then directs users to learn more about using Reels to support their goals.
Facebook’s foray into audio was a competitive move a year ago when Clubhouse was valued at $4 billion, and Spotify and Apple were dominating the podcasting market. But it would have taken a lot for Facebook to compete with Spotify and Apple, even if the company has loads of money to spend on its podcasting endeavors.
As for the live audio market, that’s still largely dominated by Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces, both of which are continuing to develop more features. Live audio grew in popularity amid the pandemic as people around the world were confined to their homes. But, as restrictions have been lifted for the most part around the world and in-person events have returned, the buzz around live audio isn't as high as it once was as companies are shifting to short-form video.