The Changing Face of Reddit: Podcasts, Video, and Beyond

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Just what kind of company is Reddit? It can be difficult to put your finger on, from link aggregator to social network. You can add media company to that discussion now too. With newsletters and podcasts already in its arsenal, Reddit is launching its own video site for original content.

“These have all been steps on the evolution toward adding original content to Reddit, and amplifying the stuff that’s already happening on Reddit to a bigger audience,” said founder Alexis Ohanian.

Reddit has been an online force to be reckoned with since its launch over a decade ago and earning the moniker of the “front page of the internet”, where a lot of online and viral content has blossomed before being plastered over every site and blog.

The direction Reddit is now taking may have come as a surprise a few years ago, as it has always prided itself on its user generated content and uploads to work. However, the site was acquired by Condé Nast in 2006, which gave Reddit some more fire power and as Ohanian explains, the site now has a considerable audience—170 million in fact. This makes it a key time to expand more into being a media company rather than building one from scratch.

The video site will be led by Stephen Greenwood and Jordan Oplinger from The Verge—a production duo that Ohanian previously worked with on the tech startup video series “Small Empire”. What the site will look like in the long term is anyone’s guess but it’s already starting to take some kind of form.

Ask Me Anything (AMA) is one of the site’s most popular features where celebrities, public figures, or any person of interest, will answer questions from the community, which have been upvoted by other users. The site will now tinker with AMA videos with the person in question, which will make for a “great storytelling medium”.

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Image courtesy of Flickr user Union Square Venture

“Our first video is actually going to be with a holocaust survivor, who did an AMA about a month and a half ago. Obviously this is important not just for history’s sake but I also think it’s the right way to get started with this video series because that was a moving read,” Ohanian told TechCrunch at Disrupt New York. “How do we then sit down with him and a few cameras and take that same authenticity you saw on the text and amplify it by a factor of 10 because that’s what good video can do?”

Other ideas will explore episodic formats for video content by collaborating and building on the content of particular sub-reddits, said Ohanian.

Ohanian and Reddit also point out that video content, and their other media endeavors, is about keeping users and views on Reddit. Typically when a story breaks on Reddit, it eventually gets picked up by a few sites and spreads from there. For every one person that views a piece of content on Reddit, there are about 10 that are viewing it somewhere else, explained Ohanian.

Videos are just one part of a multi-pronged approach that Reddit seems to be taking to reinvent itself and stay one step ahead of every other new media site.

Launching its podcast Upvoted seems like a no-brainer considering the renewed interest in the format, thanks largely to the success of Serial and companies like Podcast One capitalizing on it. Newsletters meanwhile are another medium that has seen resurgence and creates another avenue to deliver niche, user-specific content to people, which matches their interests.

Reddit appears to not be relying on any one method to usher in this new phase for the company, instead opting for several approaches to reinvent itself. This can be seen in the videos alone, which will eventually include short form and long form content.

It’s early days for the “new Reddit” but it has plenty of things going for it. Under the leadership of interim CEO Ellen Pao, it’s begun to take a more proactive approach against harassment while on the business end of things it secured $50m in funding last September, which along with its already strong user base will be vital to its new direction.

So will we recognize the Reddit we all know and love by this time next year? We can’t say for sure, but as long as user-generated content remains at the core of what Reddit is, everything is just icing on the cake.

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