TikTok‘s emergence has drawn all eyes to vertical video formats. The buzzy app has spawned imitators across the web, including Meta’s Reels, Snapchat’s Spotlight, and YouTube’s Shorts.
As those competitors look to make bank with their takes on TikTok’s signature format, the ByteDance-owned app has its eye on one of its rivals. According to TechCrunch, TikTok is testing a horizontal mode that makes its videos look more like YouTube’s.
TikTok confirmed that “some users” can access the new viewing option by tapping a “full screen” button that appears on certain videos. TikTok clips that were uploaded in a square or landscape orientation are eligible for the fullscreen treatment.
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Support for horizontal videos is the latest clue that TikTok is encouraging more YouTube-style uploads, even as the latter platform goes to great lengths to offer a TikTok-style experience for its viewers. As YouTube videos get shorter, TikTok is going long. Earlier this year, it extended the maximum length of its videos to ten minutes, bringing more creative freedom to its community. That shift seems to be paying off. According to a study from eMarketer, TikTok’s U.S. watch time will overtake YouTube’s this year (assuming it doesn’t get banned first).
But there’s still a lot of work to do before TikTok can challenge YouTube’s dominance of the long-form video format. TechCrunch notes that fullscreen-eligible TikTok videos don’t automatically snap to that orientation when a user turns their phone sideways. So YouTube’s app still offers more ease-of-use when it comes to horizontal mobile viewing.
If TikTok continues to invest in new video formats, it could compete with platforms beyond YouTube. The Google-owned service has brought both long-form and short-form content to connected TV apps, which account for an increasing percentage of YouTube watch time. Will TikTok be the next online video standout to become a lean-back, living room viewing experience? We may soon find out.