ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, is building its business in many markets around the world where TikTok has been expanding and gaining a lot of traction, such as India and the U.S.

TechCrunch has recently reported that ByteDance is considering an investment from Reliance Industries, Ltd., a huge Indian conglomerate active in many areas, including telecommunications/mobile phone services. Reliance operates Jio Platforms, a major telecommunications and digital services company, that has received investments recently from Facebook, as well as a major private equity firm, Silver Lake Partners. Reliance would specifically be backing the Indian operations of TikTok. This investment would presumably give Reliance a major position in TikTok.

In addition to President Trump’s executive orders seeking to ban TikTok and WeChat, TikTok has also been under the gun in India. Earlier this summer the Indian government banned TikTok, at the same time blocking dozens of other digital services, including WeChat, the hugely popular communications and social media platform that dominates the Chinese Internet.

Despite the ban, many Indians are circumventing the government’s blockade of TikTok, by accessing the Internet through a VPN, or virtual private network, which allows someone to browse the Web and download apps without their true geographic location being detected, as well as providing other privacy benefits.

The Indian government indicated the ban was instituted to protect national security and due to concerns about data privacy for Indian users of TikTok. ByteDance and TikTok have repeatedly assured governments and consumers that the data from TikTok’s users is secure and not shared with the Chinese government.

India is a very important market to China, and is reported to be the second biggest market, after China, for TikTok, with over 200 million users. ByteDance is being smart about not just looking for investments from local companies in the markets where TikTok competes, but searching for investments from corporations, in key countries where they operate. A similar strategy has been used for decades by U.S. and European companies seeking business in China, Japan and the Middle East.

ByteDance shows with the Reliance discussions that they know it is smart to seek partnerships with local companies that have major influence in their markets and have earned great respect in their countries, such as Reliance in India. These investments represent not just the international nature of Internet businesses, but also show that ByteDance wants to be a true international company.

TikTok has many competitors that are positioning to take advantage of the TikTok bans in India and the U.S. These companies include Dubsmash and Triller, as well as Reels, recently launched by Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. Clearly a lot of companies want to compete in the world of user generated videos online.

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In the midst of a major economic recession, disputes in Washington over further relief payments to Americans, issues of racial injustice, and other important national and international issues, a huge number of Americans (reportedly 100 million) are now faced with a new challenge – the possible banning of Tik Tok which has become very popular in the U.S. over the last year, particularly in the 13 to 34 age groups. Forbes senior editor, Abram Brown, wrote an interesting article recently about the possible motivations for President Trump to want to ban Tik Tok.

Most of the discussion about Tik Tok lately has been around the fear of possible Chinese use of Tik Tok for espionage or privacy/security infringements. Tik Tok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese-based company.

No one seems to be asking the question, who is going to be most affected by the threatened shutdown of Tik Tok in the U.S., which, of course, are the users of Tik Tok in America. Tik Tok works very hard to support the creators on the app and have launched a $200 million program to fund work by Tik Tok creators. This announcement was received positively by creators and the whole industry that has grown up around them, often called the Creator Economy. Avi Gandhi, Executive Vice President at Wheelhouse, an agency that works closely with influencers/creators said, “We work with a number of creators with major presences on Tik Tok. What we consistently see and hear is that they’re eager to do more for their fans, but can be bottlenecked by resources.”

I recently conducted a national online survey where we see that for the purpose of viewing free digital video, across the entire U.S. adult population, YouTube and Facebook dominate. But when you look at the population of those 18 to 34 years old, you see that Tik Tok has become very popular with a usage number equal to Snapchat, below Instagram, and ahead of Twitter.

Instagram is still the “one to beat” in the 18-34 year old group of video viewers online. And now Instagram is releasing Reels, a direct competitor to TikTok. Instagram is owned by Facebook, who continues to have the highest number of consumers in the 18 to 34 year old age group of any digital service presenting free online video. There are other TikTok competitors, such as Triller who recently raised $200 million and is supported by a number of the major music companies. Triller has reached the top of the App Storein many countries recently. Many TikTok creators have alerted their viewers on TikTok to the possible ban of TikTok in the U.S. and referred their viewers to their other social media outlets, such as Instagram, YouTube, Triller and others.

Because Reel is part of the Instagram app and because of the reach of their parent company, Facebook, it is evident, and already happening, that many consumers are going to download Reel. Between Triller and Instagram Reels, not to mention Lickee, TikTok has plenty of people waiting to step into their shoes, or prepared to compete directly with TikTok.

Tik Tok users are super happy with the content at Tik Tok and presumably will be quite unhappy if the app is banned. When asked to rate their satisfaction with the various digital services consumers use to view video, the viewers of Tik Tok were the most satisfied among the consumers of any of the free digital video services.

I reached out directly to Kevin Mayer, the newly appointed CEO of Tik Tok, and former head of Disney DIS +3.3%’s Direct to Consumer and International groups. Mr. Mayer said in a statement, “Tik Tok lets hundreds of millions of people across the US and around the world experience new ideas and find their voice through short, immersive, expressive videos. It’s truly inspiring to see how our users form communities and connect through this platform, and we are dedicated to continuing to provide a fun and safe experience for them to show their creativity and engage with entertaining content.”

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As people spend more time at home as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, various television and video services have reported that consumer usage has grown considerably over the past five months. I recently found in a national online survey of the U.S. adult population, that 20% of people report they are watching more Internet video as a result of the Covid pandemic stay at home situation. Nearly 40% of the U.S. say they are watching more TV programs, presumably across traditional broadcast, cable and digital VOD services.

YouTube is the granddaddy of Internet video. In the industry we use to call videos made by “amateurs” user generated content. Now it is referred to as Influencer content or Creator content. In fact, the entire ecosystem around digital video has flourished with some amateurs, who are YouTube creators, making millions of dollars in advertising and endorsements. Many others are making less money, but still enough to be called something more like a “professional” than an amateur.

YouTube has risen from a small site where people made silly videos with cats and dogs, to a powerhouse of the digital video world. In the U.S. more consumers report using YouTube for consuming free digital video than any other digital service.

Users of YouTube are very happy with the job that YouTube does – almost 80% say they are satisfied or very satisfied with YouTube.

YouTube sells subscriptions to TV services, but it is known for “free” video, first and foremost. Now subscriptions are being sold by individual creators/influencers on YouTube to their loyal fans, as reported by Bloomberg. Big Jet TV was featured by Bloomberg as an example of new alternative business models for YouTube video creators. Their channel offers two levels of paid subscription – “first class” and “super class” ($4.99 or $19.99 a month, respectively) which provides subscribers with exclusive content from Big Jet and other benefits. Big Jet reports making almost $20,000 a month from subscriptions. YouTube gets 30% of that revenue. Certainly with downward pressure on advertising revenue during this Covid recession, alternatives to advertising will be important to YouTube and to YouTube’s creators.

While advertising is the primary source of revenue for YouTube creators, Bloomberg reported that in April of this year 80,000 channels earned money on YouTube from alternative sources, up 20% from the previous month. According to Neal Mohan, YouTube’s chief product officer, “It’s important for our creators to have a diversified portfolio,” of revenue sources.

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