YouTube Shorts reaches 1.5B logged-in users monthly subscribers, promoted as a feeder to long-form content.

News Sand DC
Source: YouTube

A little more than two years after its debut, YouTube Shorts, its main competitor in the short-form video space, announced today that it now has 1.5 billion monthly viewers logged in. According to the company's September 2021 forecast, TikTok expects to have 1 billion monthly users.

This year was predicted to be TikTok's year of 1.5 billion monthly users, which it has yet to disclose.

As a result of its efforts in Shorts, YouTube also emphasized the possibility of Shorts leading viewers to long-form video channels. However, it appears to be more of an admission by YouTube that its long-form content is still more valuable than its short-form offerings.

According to the company, this new video platform better reflects the reality of today's viewer, who watches a video at all hours of the day and night. When passing the time while out and about, users may want to quickly scroll through content that is no longer than a few paragraphs. Traditional YouTube videos are a better option when they can keep their attention spans engaged for more extended periods.

Nonetheless, YouTube's report doesn't consider that long-form content has been steadily creeping into TikTok's territory over the past few months and could potentially draw creators to a platform where both short and long-range are more intertwined.

TikTok videos can now be up to 10 minutes long, following a change made in February after videos were expanded to 3 minutes last year, despite not yet being differentiated as a separate product in the app. Moved to attract the same long-form video artists that YouTube generally attracts. Because of this, creators can now shoot longer videos, like cooking tutorials, beauty tutorials, educational tapes, or comedic sketches, without worrying about how long they will be. Additionally, lengthier movies might lead to additional advertising chances down the line.

A distinct tactic seems to be taking shape on YouTube. Rather than focusing solely on short-form content, as TikTok does, YouTube sees Shorts as a way for content creators to reach new audiences who may become regular viewers of their long-form content.

Tara Walpert Levy, YouTube's Vice President of the Americas, said that "long-form content remains the best way for creators to deeply engage and develop long-term relationships with their audiences." Short films offer an exciting, innovative alternative as a new way to engage with viewers and introduce their entire portfolio to new audiences. This strategy is working; channels that post both short-form and long-form content are seeing better overall watch time and subscriber growth than those that only post one format," she added.

However, this claim is somewhat dubious because the company did not provide specific data on the average increase in watch time.

Instead, it cited only a few examples as evidence of the trend. Ian Boggs is said to have grown his channel to 4 billion lifetime views, with 73% of those views coming from his Shorts feed. Between 2021 and 2022, Boggs used Shorts to gain 5 million subscribers, according to YouTube. Rosanna Pansino, a creator using Shorts, has reported a more than twofold increase in her channel's views since implementing the service, and she credits Shorts as her primary source of traffic.

Despite this, there was evidence that the lift from Shorts could be different for different creators. An earlier version of YouTube's warning noted Shorts as Pansino's second-largest traffic source at the time, driving over 20 percent of her overall views. However, YouTube didn't reveal the new percentage of her thoughts attributed to Shorts, which was removed from the original reference. 73 percent is a high estimate, but it's unlikely to be that high.)

There is a strong impression that YouTube's strategy is for Shorts to serve as a supplement to its long-form content rather than a product in and of itself. Instead of just focusing on digital ads, YouTube will also pursue TV ad dollars. Rather than at IAB's digital-focused NewFronts, YouTube held its annual Brandcast event this year as part of the TV Upfronts, where it argued to marketers that it should compete with networks for their TV ad budgets. On big-screen TV viewing, the article noted that YouTube now accounts for more than half of all ad-supported streaming time.

However, Shorts is a product that was not designed for the television. It's also worth noting that YouTube is now talking about Shorts as a way to boost traffic to longer videos, which is helpful for creators. If YouTube thinks its TikTok clone doesn't have much value, the longer video content it's known for—and which can command a higher ad price—is more valuable.

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