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Google vs. BBC Update

I’d say the BBC might have won this round.

Another twist in the Google vs. the BBC saga: after I went on BBC Radio 4’s Feedback programme this weekend to discuss the dispute (recap here if you need it), people started getting in touch with me on social media to say that some BBC podcasts seemed to be back in the Google ecosystem again. I searched around a bit and found that this is indeed the case — popular shows like long-running radio soap opera The Archers and the politics podcast Brexitcast are now fully up to date on Google Podcasts.

The RSS feeds for these shows seem now to be redirecting via Acast, which is interesting. Acast is the BBC’s commercial partner for monetising their podcasts outside the UK, but I’m not hearing any adverts and am still getting the BBC Sounds ident at the start of each available episode, which may well be because it’s baked into the show rather than injected on the BBC Sounds platform. On search, I’m not getting any Google Podcast native results for BBC shows (i.e. with the little play buttons for recent episodes). This looks to me like it might be a compromise solution for the BBC’s problems with how Google was displaying their content: Acast delivers the shows to Google’s podcast apps and smart speakers, but the main BBC feeds remains unindexable so that the BBC’s website is the top result on Google searches. If that is the case, I’d say the BBC has won this round.