Remember the great social audio fad of 2020-21?
Sure you do – first, there was Clubhouse, the buzzy audio social platform that had every other online influencer adding ‘social audio expert’ to their constantly in-flux LinkedIn bio. Clubhouse, at one stage, reached 10 million weekly active users, and had a $1 billion valuation, with many experts proclaiming it as a new paradigm, and the next big thing for social connection.
But now, almost all of them have been depreciated, de-prioritized, or shelved entirely, as interest in social audio continues to wane.
And now Reddit Talk, Reddit’s own variation of the same, is the latest to be added to social audio scrapheap.
As per Reddit:
“We have made the difficult decision to sunset the Reddit Talk product in the coming weeks. Hosting Reddit Talks will continue to be available until March 21. The ‘Happening Now’ experiment will also wind-down on this date.”
Reddit says that it had originally planned to continue supporting audio chat elements, in line with broader platform upgrades, but recent changes have led to further complexity in maintaining the option.
“Unfortunately, the 3rd party audio vendor we use for Talk is shutting down its service. In other words, the resources required to keep Talk live during this transition increased substantially. We don’t have a timeline to bring Talk or an audio product back in the future, however we will share any updates when we have them.”
Reddit Talk was originally launched in April 2021, at the latter end of the social audio boom. And while it has been a hit with some users and communities, Reddit’s no longer able to justify the costs of maintaining the service. Which would suggest that usage is likely not very high, which aligns with every other audio social offering, in that they do have a level of niche value, but are not broadly popular, and thus viable elements.
As many had predicted, social audio has followed a similar trajectory to video live-streaming, with a much-hyped launch period, followed by steady rationalization, which has eventually seen both functionalities lose their allure with general users,.
The challenge with live content is that it’s difficult to do – it’s not easy to create consistent, on-the-fly content that keeps audiences coming back. In both cases, that’s eventually seen the quality of streams, overall, decline, which means that audiences have to search more and more to find good stuff amid the junk. Till eventually, they just don’t bother, and usage numbers fall below the threshold of viability.
That’s not to say that the functionality is useless. Twitter Spaces still facilitates various high-engagement broadcasts, which enrich community engagement, while Clubhouse is also still developing its best way forward, supported by its own dedicated community.
There is, seemingly, a place for audio engagement, but as a general, broad-reaching, focal element, it doesn’t appear to have a big future, as exemplified by the various re-assessments.
For Reddit Talks specifically, Reddit says that conversations hosted after September 1st, 2022 are now available for download, while other talks will become gradually available for download till June 1st, before the function is switched off entirely.
That leaves, really, Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and LinkedIn audio as the last few standing. It’ll be interesting to see if they remain into 2024.
You can read more about the plans to sunset Reddit Talks here.