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.”