Surprising reasons why TV should pay attention to Reddit

By Natan Edelsburg Comment

It’s our mission to tell you about the major social platforms that enhance TV. From interviews with Facebook and Tumblr to constant coverage of Twitter’s major TV-related announcements, we’re your one-stop resource. But there’s one massive social platform with thriving TV communities that we haven’t covered — and it may be a surprise for TV marketers.

It’s called Reddit, and while most of us know the platform as a place to share fun links, its subreddits (niche communities set up by users) are increasingly popular spots to talk about TV — to the tune of millions of PVs of month each. We interviewed Reddit’s General Manager, Erik Martin on how Reddit is changing the meaning of social TV.

But first, Reddit describes itself as “a type of online community where users vote on content.” They smartly feature a article on their “about” page proving how the platform is even challenging Twitter, “as a place for real-time updates and citizen journalism.” The company has changed hands a few times, luckily not affecting its growth. In September 2011, the company changed hands from Condé Nast to its parent company, Advanced Publications.

(Here’s one of many Reddit meetups, by timdorr)

Martin keynoted April’s Social TV Summit, and he described how “we are open source and have an API and active developer community, but not a real firehose like Twitter.” With a new CEO and a powerful community of TV fans across specific shows, specific characters and more TV networks are starting to see their fans have the most fun and become the most engaged with Reddit.

The platform’s “Ask Me Anything” franchise is also proving to be the number one place on the social web for celebrities and influencers to host a chat. Kevin Smith is hosting one today, and Ricky Gervais and Larry King are listed on their schedule as TBD. We spoke with Martin in detail about how much social TV is happening on reddit even though networks are still barely involved.

Lost Remote: How does Reddit partner with TV networks?

Erik Martin: We’ve run a couple ad campaigns for TV networks, but that is about it.

LR: What are some examples of TV network that have used Reddit successfully?

Martin: There are a lot of great TV related subreddits. Here are a few examples: Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Community, Adventure Time and Breaking Bad.

None of these have any direct involvement from the network though. Individual actors and some other creative talent from shows like Community and Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones have done IAMAs — Gillian Jacobs, Dan Harmon, Miltos Yerolemou and Luis Moncada. — which have gone really well, but still there’s surprisingly little interaction with the TV brands, though maybe that’s a good thing.

LR: How should TV networks be using Reddit?

Martin: They should be using it primarily to listen to their fans. Not just gauge sentiment and activity, but really listen at both a qualitative and quantitative level. Twitter and Facebook are great but they are very limited. You can’t build something like this and the community behind it on Twitter or Facebook. Reddit is not social in the sense that you are talking about a show to your extended friends. It’s more about connecting with complete strangers who share your glorious obsessions. It’s more similar to a fansite or messageboard than it is to Facebook or Twitter.

LR: How is Reddit making TV more social? Any stats, or data you can share?

Martin: Popular TV Series subreddits like GoT, DrWho, BreakingBad, etc. each get millions of impressions per month.

LR: How will Reddit work with TV brands in the future?

Martin: In the future there might be TV brands that launch, raise funds, develop a community, and then distribute their content all on Reddit. That might be 10 years down the road, but might be sooner. In the meantime, I think brands will become more involved with the fan subreddits and facilitate some of the things on the fans collective wishlists.

LR: Anything else?

Martin: Live sports on Reddit has dramatically improved in the past year. Moderators are now pulling in live data into the match threads (example). This is just the beginning.