In an effort to present itself as a competitor to the mainstream short video platform TikTok, YouTube announced that its rival service Shorts is now watched by more than 1.5 billion logged-in users each month, less than two years after its launch.
By comparison, TikTok announced 1 billion monthly users in September 2021. The platform has not announced updated numbers since then. But Tik Tok is expected to reach 1.5 billion monthly users sometime this year.
In regards to its newest achievement, YouTube also touted Shorts’ ability to direct viewers to content creators’ long video channels as a byproduct of their investment in Shorts.
YouTube refers to this trend as the multiform emergence of the content creator. But this trend seems to be an acknowledgment that the platform still sees more value in its longer content.
The company has positioned its video platform as a platform that better reflects the reality of today’s viewer, who interact with video at different times and places throughout the day.
In some cases, users may want to quickly scroll through shorter content. At other times, they may be able to watch for longer periods and resort to traditional YouTube videos.
However, the company’s report does not take into account how TikTok is steadily advancing into its field with long content, and how it can attract content creators to a platform where shorter and longer content is more intertwined.
Although not yet marked as a separate product in the app, TikTok videos can now be up to 10 minutes long. The move is designed to attract the same kind of longer video makers that YouTube usually attracts.
With the expansion, content creators have gained more flexibility to shoot things like cooking shows, beauty classes, educational content, comedy sketches, and more without having to worry about video length.
Moreover, long videos can open the door to more opportunities for showing ads.
YouTube describes Shorts as a feeder of long content
On the other hand, YouTube seems to be promoting a different strategy. Rather than making short form the core of its service with long form as an option, as TikTok does, the Google-owned platform sees Shorts as a way for content creators to reach new audiences who may then become more regular viewers of their long-form content.
Long-form content remains the best way for content creators to engage in depth and develop long-term relationships with their audiences, the platform said. But Shorts offers a new way for content creators to become a part of the viewer’s journey and present themselves and their entire portfolio to new audiences. This approach leads to real results.
She added that channels with both short and long content experience better overall watch time and subscriber growth than those with just one format.
The company did not share specific numbers regarding the increased average watch time. Instead, she cited case studies as evidence of this trend.
In one of them, creator Ian Boggs expanded his channel to 4 billion views, 73% of which are from Shorts. During the pandemic, Boggs moved to Shorts and gained 5 million subscribers between 2021 and 2022.
In another example, creator Rosanna Pancino has more than doubled the number of views on her channel since adopting Shorts.
It appears that YouTube’s strategy is to position Shorts as a feeder of its longer content, rather than as the primary product. This is in line with the platform’s broader goal of pursuing TV advertising money rather than just digital advertising.
As part of this effort, this year YouTube hosted for the first time its annual Brandcast event through TV Upfronts instead of NewFronts.
She talked about how much YouTube content is watched on the big screen TV in the living room. She said she had more than 50% of her watch time for ad-supported broadcasts on television.
It should be noted that YouTube is talking about Shorts as a way to increase traffic to longer videos. This is an indication that it believes its main value is in the longer content that fetches a higher price in the ad market, not in a TikTok clone.