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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Spotify is building a suite of interactive podcast features that will help users develop stronger personal relationships with niche creators.

Driving the news: In an interview with Axios, Spotify head of podcasts, live and video Michael Mignano said the company is working to have its user experience be "less passive" by adding things like video, polls, live audio conversations and Q&A features to its podcasts and subscription offering.

  • The company said last week it would open up video podcasting to creators and will heavily encouraging them to use videos in their podcasts. They promised video would "feel like a seamless experience" for creators.
  • Spotify announced on its latest earnings call that it now has 3.3 million podcasts on its platform, up from 500,000 two years ago.

The big picture: Podcasts have traditionally been distributed through RSS feeds that made them very accessible, but hard to innovate on top of.

  • Spotify developed an end-to-end podcasting platform in an effort to make podcasts easier to innovate on top of through the acquisitions of companies like Anchor, a free podcasting platform and Megaphone, a podcast monetization company.

The bottom line: "RSS as an open protocol is super useful in the distribution of content itself but it doesn’t allow you to do a lot with that content," Mignano said.

Go deeper

Nov 30, 2021 - Economy & Business

Exclusive: Vox Media poaches top NPR host, lands distribution deal with WNYC

Noel King. Photo: Sandy Honig/NPR

Vox Media has inked a deal with WNYC, a member station of NPR, to distribute its flagship podcast "Today, Explained" to public radio stations across the country beginning next year.

  • It's also poached Noel King, co-host of NPR's flagship show "Morning Edition," as editorial director and co-host of "Today Explained" with the podcast's current host Sean Rameswaram.
2 hours ago - World

U.S: Nord Stream 2 "will not move forward" if Russia invades Ukraine

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price during a press briefing at the State Department in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. will make sure the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project between Russia and Germany won't go ahead if Russian troops invade Ukraine, State Department spokesperson Ned Price told NPR on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Germany's ambassador to the U.S. appeared to support Price's strong rhetoric on the strategically significant pipeline that would circumvent Ukrainian transit infrastructure and deliver Russian gas directly to Germany, eliminating one of the last deterrents Ukraine has against an invasion, per Axios' Zachary Basu.

Scoop: Stephanie Ruhle to replace Brian Williams on MSNBC

Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

MSNBC will soon announce plans to move morning anchor Stephanie Ruhle to the 11 pm ET hour that Brian Williams turned into an elite destination, two sources familiar with the move tell Axios.

Details: The 9 am ET hour, currently hosted by Ruhle, will become part of MSNBC's flagship morning show, "Morning Joe," which currently runs from 6 am to 9 am ET.

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