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YouTube Shorts: Just The Facts

April 6, 2020 Sarah Cavill

TikTok, already a wildly popular app with 1.7 billion downloads as of February 2020, has seen a recent surge in popularity during coronavirus quarantines, particularly with bored kids stuck at home. TikTok is the go-to app for Gen Z, and competitors like YouTube are anxious to capture the younger audiences hooked on the short-form videos that make TikTok such a hit. 

According to an article in Business Insider, “YouTube reportedly plans to launch a short-form video-sharing feature [YouTube Shorts] inside its mobile app by the end of 2020 in an attempt to make a dent in the surging popularity and impact of TikTok.”

Can YouTube Shorts Capture TikTok’s Audience?

Shutterstock_531968446 LG K10 with YouTube application laying on desk. YouTube allows users to upload, view, rate, share, and comment on videos

YouTube is no slouch in the popularity department. The Google-owned company has been the most widely used video-sharing platform in the world for 15 years, with 2 billion monthly users. However, even with 81% of 15-25 year-olds using YouTube, it doesn't have short-form content like TikTok, and as a result, YouTube may be concerned about losing ground with younger audiences. 

Enter YouTube Shorts. The concept is rumored to be similar to TikTok, a feed of very short videos perfect for scrolling, sharing and mimicking. YouTube Shorts will live in the YouTube mobile app, giving creators access to YouTube’s huge library of licensed music and soundtracks. Additionally, because YouTube Shorts is an add on to the YouTube mobile app, users won’t have to download another app or learn a new interface. 

How Is YouTube Shorts Different Than Other TikTok Competitors?

In addition to this week’s launch of YouTube competitor Quibi, which offers original content in “bites” that are less than ten minutes, several other platforms have tried short-form videos. Facebook tested a short-form video app called Lasso in South America, but the results aren’t known, and Google contemplated buying Firework, an app similar to TikTok, but may have tabled the acquisition with the development of YouTube Shorts. Byte, a direct descendant of Vine debuted to some fanfare, but it is still young. And Triller, which combines music discovery with short-form video, relies on its music label partnerships to set it apart from TikTok. None of the “new TikToks” have taken off like the original.

Clearly, YouTube isn’t the first platform to try to capture the short-form video market, but they are the biggest, and video of any kind is a natural fit on YouTube for obvious reasons. YouTube’s monetization policies for creators, which YouTube will likely also use with YouTube Shorts, is another huge advantage for the platform. TikTok currently has no reliable monetization for creators, with Social Media Today noting that many TikTok stars eventually head to YouTube where they know they can make money. 

Only time will tell if TikTok users migrate over to YouTube Shorts. Meanwhile, YouTube told Business Insider, “We don't comment on rumors or speculation.”

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Associate Content Manager, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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