TikTok reportedly testing ad-free subscription service

3 Oct 2023

Image: © chathuporn/Stock.adobe.com

A company spokesperson told multiple publications that it is testing this service in a single market, while a report suggests Meta is also looking at ad-free subscriptions.

TikTok appears to be looking at introducing an ad-free subscription tier for its app, according to multiple reports.

Android Authority shared screenshots from the latest version of TikTok, prompting users to select a free, ‘standard’ version of the app or an ad-free experience for $4.99 a month. The publication said it also found new strings in the app that indicate it is testing an ad-free plan with its community.

Following this report, a TikTok spokesperson confirmed to both Variety and TechCrunch that the company is testing a subscription plan, but added that this test is occurring in a single market outside of the US.

A spokesperson also told TechCrunch that small-scale tests do not mean a product launch is inevitable. SiliconRepublic.com has reached out to a TikTok spokesperson for a comment.

TikTok makes a large portion of its revenue from ads, similar to other social media companies. The platform has been taking steps to diversify its income however. For example, it launched an in-app store called TikTok shop last month.

If the company moves ahead with an ad-free subscription plan, it will be following in the footsteps of apps such as Spotify, Snapchat and YouTube. X owner Elon Musk has previously hinted that the site may introduce a higher-priced subscription tier that has no ads, though it is unclear if this will come to fruition.

The reported testing comes two months after TikTok shared how it would adjust its content practices in the EU in order to comply with the bloc’s Digital Services Act. TikTok said it will let users in the EU turn off personalisation, which is when the content a user sees is tailored to suit their personal interests, usually based on algorithmic data.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that Meta is considering charging users up to €13 for an ad-free service on Facebook and Instagram. This report suggests European users would have the option to pay this fee or agree to personalised ads.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic