Pandora Unveils Its ‘Podcast Genome Project’ In a Bid for Differentiation

Pandora's podcasts include the biggest shows, like Serial.
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Pandora is hoping to use its music genome project with podcasts to differentiate itself from competitors like Apple Music and Spotify.

Both music streaming services have offered exclusive podcasts and podcast support in a bid to keep listeners tuned in to the service.  But maybe Pandora can one-up by recommending the best podcasts for its listeners.

Pandora’s Podcast Genome Project is a cataloging system and discovery algorithm for personal recommendations.  Essentially, Pandora is hoping to apply the same sort of content delivery method for delivering similar songs to podcasts.

Pandora is rolling out beta access to the feature to select listeners on mobile devices.  If you’re interested in early access of the feature, you can sign-up on Pandora’s website.

Pandora CEO Roger Lynch says the podcasting market has plenty of room to grow, but notes that most people admit discovery is the biggest problem for listening to podcasts.

“Eighty-three percent of Americans aren’t yet listening to podcasts on a weekly basis, and a majority of them report that’s because they simply don’t know where to start,” Lynch shared.  “Making podcasts – both individual episodes and series – easy to discover and simple to experience is how we plan to greatly grow podcast listening while simultaneously creating new and more sustainable ways to monetize them.”

Pandora’s new Podcast Genome will evaluate more than 1,500 attributes including MPAA ratings, evergreen topics, production style, and content type.  The listener can affect the content provided by the usual thumbs up, skip, or replay.

While the algorithm itself uses machine learning to filter for listener preference, Pandora says in-house curation is also in play.

“The Podcast Genome Project’s unique episode-level understanding of content knows exactly what podcast you’ll want to discover next, and will serve it up through a seamless in-product experience that is uniquely personalized to each listener and will continue to grow with their tastes over time,” the company describes.

Pandora has partnered with a few podcast networks at launch to feature existing podcast material.  Popular shows like Serial, This American Life, and a Pandora original called Questlove Supreme are now available for streaming.