Spotify's Anchor launches video podcasts

All the technical details; plus the launch of SoundStack
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  • Spotify’s Anchor has rolled out proprietary video podcasts to all Anchor users in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the UK. Paid subscriptions will be available for these shows, too; additionally, Anchor has integrated with Riverside, to streamline the production of video podcasts. Anchor has posted more details, and here are Anchor’s FAQs.

  • How do Anchor’s proprietary video podcasts work technically?

    • We gave it a go - producing a 73MB video file in Quicktime and uploading it to Anchor. On Spotify’s web player in Chrome, when signed in, the video plays - it’s a .webm format video file, served in two chunks - one 34,988 bytes, one 1.5 MB, and served with security tokens by Amazon S3 via Akamai. You need to be signed-in to Spotify to see the video, otherwise you only hear the audio.
    • Apple’s Safari doesn’t, yet, support .webm format video files. On this platform it plays a number of MPEG2 .ts segments, which are presumably larger filesizes.
    • If you subscribe to the RSS feed from Anchor, the episode appears as audio only. The audio in the RSS feed is a 128kbps/44.1kHz stereo MP3 file, 131KB large, encoded with the libavcodec. It doesn’t appear to have been normalised, so it’s quite quiet. (Incidentally, we were given the RSS feed by default; but it lacks an email address - you have to configure that separately.)
  • What other options are there for video podcasts?

    • Many podcasts are available in a separate video format, like the New Media Show (video) in a different feed from the audio version of the New Media Show. Unlike Spotify’s solution, they work everywhere else: Apple Podcasts, PocketCasts, and many others.
    • A better future alternative (perhaps) is to support the alternateEnclosure tag. That means one RSS feed, and the opportunity for a supporting RSS player to choose a different version (and perhaps switch between video and audio services as you consume it). Our RSS feed (view the source) doesn’t include video, but does include an alternate low-bitrate version of our podcast.
    • And, of course, there’s always YouTube, which allows monetisation of your videos and access to the world’s second-biggest search engine. Podnews recently gained access to YouTube’s pitch deck detailing its podcasting plans. YouTube’s announcements are, apparently, imminent; perhaps Anchor’s news will awaken the video streaming giant.
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