The Chinese version of TikTok is letting some creators with at least 100,000 followers put up paywalls

By 11/16/2023
The Chinese version of TikTok is letting some creators with at least 100,000 followers put up paywalls

In China, ByteDance is working with some of its top creators to test a new revenue stream. On Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, some creators with at least 100,000 followers can now put paywalls on their videos.

News of the Douyin paywalls comes from Reuters, which cited “a person familiar with the matter.” The feature is currently in its testing phase, but some creators have been given the ability to charge a fixed fee for individual videos. Viewers must pay up in order to access those clips. According to a screenshot shared by Chinese media outlet Sina, ByteDance will take 30% of the earnings generated from the paywalls.

ByteDance is looking to bring new revenue streams to Douyin as it battles regulatory efforts around the globe. The blockbuster app is an ecommerce powerhouse, generating $274 billion in sales during the first ten months of 2023. But in spite of those gaudy numbers, recent developments have taken some momentum away from the Asian ecommerce market. In Indonesia, for example, government protections for local business owners have stymied growth on TikTok Shop.

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Paywalled content could become a valuable source of income for videomakers who are dealing with the fluctuations of the creator economy. On TikTok, a similar feature has already been launched. In March, the international version of Douyin introduced TikTok Series, which lets users create paywalled collections of videos. Series expanded to TikTok users with at least 10,000 followers in June.

The Douyin version of paywalled content sounds a bit different from TikTok Series. The latter feature is an attempt to bring more long-form content to TikTok, while the former seems as if it could eventually apply to any eligible video. In general, there seem to be fewer restrictions attached to the Douyin feature. Creators can set their own prices without input from ByteDance, according to Sina.

Some Douyin features eventually make their way to TikTok. A food delivery option arrived on the Chinese platform this past February; nine months later, TikTok exec Mike Westgate revealed that his app is exploring the possibility of an in-app grocery delivery service. We don’t know whether Douyin’s flexible paywalls will make their way to the West, but if they do, some creators will be eager to open up another revenue stream for themselves.

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