Just a year after Facebook began its attempt to pivot to audio — or hang onto Clubhouse's coattails — the company is pulling the plug on its podcast hub and ditching Soundbites, its TikTok-for-audio feature.
Facebook will stop allowing people to add podcasts to its service starting this week, according to a note sent to partners seen by Bloomberg, and will take down its central audio hub. Facebook is removing podcasts from its platform altogether after June 3. A Meta spokesperson told Bloomberg that it didn't have a specific date for when the audio hub and Sound Bites features would be shutting down. The news follows Bloomberg reporting last month that Meta was planning on deprioritizing its audio efforts.
Facebook will reportedly not be letting users know that these features are shutting down, and is leaving it up to podcast publishers to let their listeners know, according to the note. Live Audio Rooms, Facebook's Clubhouse copycat, will be integrated into Facebook Live, giving users the choice to go live via video or audio.
“We’re constantly evaluating the features we offer so we can focus on the most meaningful experiences,” the spokesperson told Bloomberg.
Facebook first went all-in on audio last April, releasing its live audio platform as well as its suite of podcasting tools, but it didn't last long. Facebook's audio efforts were attempts to capitalize on the pandemic-induced social audio craze started by Clubhouse and continued by Twitter Spaces. Those social audio products have declined in popularity as COVID-19 restrictions lifted and joining audio chatrooms to hear people talk about bitcoin or whatever became less of a priority.
Facebook also faced an uphill battle in the podcasting space, as giants like Spotify and Apple continue to dominate the market. The company is instead focusing on Reels, which are seeing significant engagement on Instagram (despite the fact that many of the short videos are lifted directly from TikTok) and its metaverse ambitions. RIP, podcasts.