YouTube may be developing a platform to rival TikTok

2 Apr 2020

Image: © simona/

YouTube has reportedly been exploring the possibility of launching a short-form video platform since at least October 2019.

By the end of 2020, YouTube plans to launch a short-form video-sharing platform to rival Chinese social media giant TikTok, according to a report from The Information.

Two people familiar with the plans for the new platform told The Information that YouTube’s answer to TikTok will be called Shorts and will be part of the existing YouTube mobile app.

While it may be hard for a platform to overtake TikTok’s momentum, as it is reported to have around 800m active users and nearly 2bn downloads, YouTube would have at least one advantage over TikTok – a massive collection of licensed music.

According to The Information, YouTube Shorts will enable users to take advantage of the company’s significant music catalogue.

Short-form video

The video-sharing platform has had short-form videos in its sights for some time. In October 2019, YouTube’s parent company Google was rumoured to be in acquisition talks with a TikTok competitor called Firework, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Speaking in an upcoming episode of NBC News’ Byers Market podcast, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said: “Really, really short-form video, like 15 seconds … that is a place that is certainly interesting to look at, and for us to think about.

“We actually have introduced stories on YouTube and we’ve actually seen our creators really engage with the stories. That would be an example of really short-form content. So we will definitely continue to innovate in all different format sizes, including really short-form video.”

When asked about plans to launch Shorts by multiple news outlets, YouTube responded: “We don’t comment on rumour or speculation.”

YouTube’s plans

Late in 2019, HubSpot compiled a list of statistics about TikTok, suggesting that 60pc of TikTok’s US audience is between the ages of 16 and 24, around 50pc of TikTok’s global audience is under 34, and 26pc of global users are between 18 and 24.

In the US, around 81pc of 15- to 25-year-olds use YouTube, according to Hootsuite. The website has 2bn logged-in monthly users and 70pc of YouTube’s monthly views come from mobile devices.

YouTube will not have to convince users to download a new app if it launches a short-form video platform within its existing mobile app, which millions are already using. Additionally, creators on YouTube will be able to publish short-form videos on their existing accounts, which already have subscribers and fan bases.

Business Insider pointed out that numerous US companies and start-ups have attempted to recreate the success of TikTok through similar short-form videos, but that none have come near the levels of success and popularity that the Chinese company has.

“The only similar platform to have found comparable success in the US is – which ByteDance acquired in 2017, then shut down a year later to merge into TikTok,” the publication wrote.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic