YouTube could probably be called the homepage of Internet video but it could soon face new competition for the title. Reddit, which is famously known as "'the front page of the Internet," has announced plans for a new video platform.
Reddit will start by trying to translate the success of the site's "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) interview posts into video format. Reddit Video has already recorded a series of AMAs with a number of celebrities, politicians, athletes and other public figures.
Alexis Ohanian, Reddit co-founder and chairman, made the announcement and showed off some Reddit Video clips at the TechCrunch Disrupt NY conference on May 6. "Reddit's mission is to connect people across the world through authentic conversations, collaboration, and community - video is an amazing storytelling medium and there's no better wellspring of original stories than Reddit," he said.
Reddit's title as the "front page of the Internet" is well-earned. The site received 170 million visitors in January, generating 6.7 billion page views. It is a front page of sorts because rather that hosting original content, Reddit provides links to stories from around the web, which users rank in order of popularity.
However, recently the site has dipped its toes into the content creation pool by releasing a podcast and newsletter, so original videos are the next logical step. Reddit Video will be spearheaded by two former members of The Verge video team, Stephen Greenwood and Jordan Oplinger.
Although the platform will start with AMA videos, the plan is to expand into other categories like user stories. "We'll be aiming to tell some of the best stories that have happened on the platform and because of the platform," said Greenwood.
Reddit's move into original content is an attempt to monetize its huge user base. The change in approach follows a $50 million funding round last fall that also saw the appointment of Ellen Pao as CEO and the return of Ohanian as chairman. There are display ads on the sites forums, or subreddits, but not the kind that bring in huge money. Advertisers will be more attracted to a site if they know what type of content their ads will be accompanying. Firstly they'll know that their brand won't be associated with controversial material and they'll be able to pick the preproduced video that is most likely to be watched by their target audience.
It makes sense that Reddit is using it's most popular post format - AMAs - to launch the service. The success of the project is far from assured, however. The company previously tried to convert the popular "Explain Like I'm Five" subreddit format into a video series. The videos launched in 2013 but there have been relatively few posts since.
Reddit's popularity has risen since then and if the team manages to land interviews with the names that Ohanian touted like Kim Kardashian, Jay-Z and even the pope, then they're likely to attract an audience.