Last April, Facebook announced a suite of new audio products, including new support for podcasts and a 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's interest in the space is reportedly starting to fade, a report claims.
Facebook is said to be pulling back from its foray into podcasting and is looking to prioritize other initiatives in collaboration with its podcast partners, according to a new report from Bloomberg. According to its sources, Facebook is now focused on pursuing other opportunities with podcast partners -- like events in the metaverse and e-commerce. Facebook's parent company Meta is also said to be prioritizing short-video projects above other initiatives, likely due to increasing competition from popular short-form video app TikTok.
In an email to TechCrunch, a Meta spokesperson said the company is seeing good engagement with its audio features and believes that audio is an important medium for expression. The company also said it's been getting feedback from creators on what's working well and what it can improve on. Meta did not elaborate on the matter any further.
Bloomberg notes that Facebook had looked into creating a training program to bring creators to its platform at one point, but never went through with the idea. In addition, after sponsoring the Podcast Movement conference last August, Facebook didn't sponsor the conference's offshoot event last month and reportedly didn't send a Meta employee to attend the event either. Bloomberg also reports that some of Facebook's initial Live Audio Room deals have not been renewed.
Meta's pivot to the metaverse in regards to its relationship with its podcast partners isn't exactly a surprise, however -- especially given its parent company's recent corporate rebranding and decision to prioritize the metaverse above certain other things. For example, Meta recently announced that it won’t be holding its F8 developer conference this year in order to focus on the metaverse.
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 take a lot for Facebook to compete with Spotify and Apple, even if the company has loads of money to spend on its podcasting endeavors. The metaverse will also be pricey -- there's a question as to how long Meta can even afford to bankroll its investment here, given that it announced earlier this year it's dropped nearly $10 billion on the effort to date. And it's just getting started.
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, Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces have been looking to retain users by reworking and enhancing their platforms.
For example, Clubhouse has started testing a new in-room gaming feature that is designed to spur conversation and help people get to know each other better. On the other hand, Twitter is continuing to make Spaces more easily accessible and has launched new features such as Ticketed Spaces and the ability for anyone to host a Space.