This article was published on August 20, 2019

Reddit tests live broadcasting with a Public Access Network

Reddit tests live broadcasting with a Public Access Network

Reddit today revealed it’s testing its own livestreaming service, called RPAN or Reddit Public Access Network. It’ll be running all week, presumably to see what kind of shows redditors put on before the site rolls it out to everyone.

The R/PAN subreddit includes a series of short videos comparing the service to public access TV. The videos, which appeared over the weekend before the official announcement, appeared intentionally vague to tease the coming announcement. It seemed to work, because there’s nothing Reddit likes more than a good mystery to solve.

According to the RPAN sub, the feature will be available from 9am to 5pm PT every day this week. According to Alex Le, Reddit’s VP of Product speaking to Wired, no more than 100 streams will be allowed concurrently and they have a cap of 30 mins. Redditors can upvote or downvote broadcasts they like, and Reddit encourages users to explore. Reddit broadcasts can only be done with the rear-facing camera, meaning you won’t be able to broadcast your selfie vlog (or whatever it is kids are doing on Instagram these days).

Le implied that the reason Reddit was pursuing this feature was because it’s become the norm for social media sites, and Reddit looks kind of old-fashioned for not having one: “We know that our users are familiar with streaming across their internet experience, because they’re seeing it on other platforms. It’s become an expectation that a platform should offer this.”

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If your first reaction upon hearing that Reddit is going to have live broadcasting is a cringe of despair, then I share your reservations. Reddit’s interesting variety of communities include several that might be rather perturbing to listen to on a public access broadcast. Still, I kinda want to see who shows up for the party. Redditors from r/news might create an interesting spin on a news channel, but I shudder to think what would happen if someone from r/politics shows up.

It should (read: should) remain relatively clean. The broadcasting rules include no NSFW content, nothing illegal, nothing that promotes hoaxes, and nothing that’s against Reddit’s rules — the only exceptions being something educational or newsworthy. It remains to be seen how well the site can police its own content, but that should be top priority given how scattershot moderation can be even on the best sites.

Update (8/22): We received comment from Reddit with regards to its policies on live broadcasting. According to a spokesperson, the reason RPAN is only available during “business hours” is so that Reddit employees can actively moderate it. Also, Reddit’s striving to differentiate itself from other platforms based on the fact that it’s not about the individual streaming or their following, but rather the quality of the broadcast. Based on what we’ve seen of RPAN so far, it certainly feels different than some other streams we’ve seen before.

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