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YouTube CEO’s Ambitious Plans: Aiming to Topple TikTok in the Short-Form Video Arena?

Last Updated June 1, 2024 11:12 AM
Giuseppe Ciccomascolo
Last Updated June 1, 2024 11:12 AM

Key Takeaways

  • YouTube is aiming to become accessible across all devices.
  • It is prioritizing its Shorts feature to compete with TikTok’s dominance in the short-video market.
  • YouTube may benefit from a possible ban of TikTok in the US.
  • However, the ByteDance famous short-video app is focusing on something new.

YouTube Chief Executive Officer, Neal Mohan, stated  his goal is to bring the most popular video platform to all devices in the near term. Additionally, he aims to make YouTube a major player in the short-video arena, challenging TikTok‘s dominance in this field.

In the meantime, ByteDance’s app, while facing a potential ban in the US – one of its largest markets  – appears to be shifting its focus towards e-commerce services and seems to be unconcerned about political issues and competition in the States.

YouTube CEO’s Growth Plan

For Neal Mohan, YouTube can expand its presence to our living room and leverage the creators who have earned $70 billion from YouTube over the past three years, as he said during an interview  at The Circuit with Emily Chang. No longer content with being limited to mobile devices, YouTube aims to be accessible on all our screens.

“We’re not a social media platform,” Mohan told Chang. “We’re not traditional media in the sense that we’re not linear television. For me, this means staying focused on what we do best: providing a place to create, share, and watch video no matter where you are in the world, and no matter what screen you’re on.”

The manager also emphasized that live sports will remain a key investment area, especially following the completion of the first season of the NFL Sunday Ticket on YouTube. He sees a significant advantage in combining creators and live sports content on one platform, particularly for younger audiences.

Many creators have left the popular video platform due to burnout. But, this is something that doesn’t scare Mohan. “I know lots of creators who’ve chosen to either take a break or pursue different ventures,” Mohan said. “Some have moved from in front of the camera to behind it. Others have expanded different types of businesses from their YouTube experience. This evolution is natural and positive, driven by the success they’ve achieved on our platform.”

Undermining TikTok Shorts Video Supremacy

Another field in which YouTube aims to grow is the short-video one. A market in which TikTok is playing a pivotal role in all countries, despite facing some political issues in the US and the EU.

“Shorts is averaging over 70 billion daily views, and the number of channels uploading Shorts has grown 50% year over year,” said  Mohan, adding that “AI innovation will make it possible for even more people to create.”

Comparing TikTok, Reels, and Shorts
Compared to YouTube Shorts, which scored the lowest engagement levels, of about 3.80% on average, TikTok reaches an engagement significantly higher. l Source: Social Insider

Putting more effort into Shorts is something Mohan has addressed more than once, especially when he started his role as YouTube CEO. He wrote in a blog post : “We’re leveling the playing field and developing AI tools that empower everyone. Our commitment to democratizing access to AI builds on the ways we’re enabling everyone to share fun videos  right from their phones with Shorts. The next generation of storytellers has the power to create in the palm of their hands.

“Shorts is an easy way for anyone to start, and AI innovation will make it possible for even more people to create. I love seeing how people use Shorts to participate in cultural moments. Shorts is averaging over 70 billion daily views, and the number of channels uploading Shorts has grown 50% year over year.”

ByteDance Potential Ban In The US

More than one video market expert  has seen this boost to Shorts as an attempt by the new CEO to undermine TikTok’s supremacy in short-video arena. As widely anticipated, US House lawmakers have approved a bill that could potentially ban TikTok in the US. According to the bill, ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, would need to divest from the app within five months.

Signed by President Joe Biden on April 24, the law allows ByteDance nine months to divest, with a possible three-month extension at the president’s discretion. However, the appeal filed by TikTok halts the countdown, potentially delaying the ban.

TikTok has then taken legal action  against the US government to stop implementing this law, which requires the sale of the platform due to its Chinese ownership or face a ban. The appeal claims that the law is an “unprecedented violation” of the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of expression.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen mentioned  the possibility of a US-style TikTok ban in the EU. Her stance received cautious support from Luxembourgish Socialist lead candidate Nicolas Schmit, who described his view on banning TikTok as “quite American.” Although this, CCN has explained why a European ban seems unlikely for the popular video app.

TikTok May Focus On E-Commerce

If the video battle is yet to be considered closed, TikTok is already looking for alternatives to focus its efforts. On May 31, 2024, the company paused  its ambitious European e-commerce expansion plans to prioritize the US market. This comes as TikTok faces a potential “divest-or-ban” law in the US.

Internal sources revealed delays in launching the TikTok Shop feature across major European markets. These are Spain, Germany, Italy, France, and Ireland. The initial July rollout has been postponed, and plans for Mexico and Brazil are also on hold. The future of these initiatives remains uncertain.

This move reflects ByteDance’s focus on solidifying its presence in the US. By prioritizing the American market, the company aims to demonstrate value to both US merchants and consumers. This strategy is likely intended to counter the negative impact of the potential ban, which has discouraged some businesses from joining the platform.

And it also has precise goals. In fact, TikTok aims to increase its US merchandise volume tenfold, targeting  up to $17.5 billion this year. Additionally, the company is aware that a comprehensive expansion into Europe could attract regulatory scrutiny similar to what it faces in the US.

However, Neal Mohan’s vision for YouTube is expansive, aiming to enhance the platform’s role in the short-video sector, challenging TikTok’s dominance. But the fact that ByteDance’s app is turning its focus on e-commerce doesn’t mean it is necessarily abandoning the short-video world. It seems that the battle for supremacy in this field has just started.

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