We all know TikTok has had ten-minute videos for a while now. (Meanwhile, YouTube Shorts is still sticking creators with a 60-second limit, for…some reason.)
But how many people are actually watching those longer videos?
According to TikTok, quite a few.
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The Information reports that during a creator event in late October, TikTok told attendees that across its entire userbase, people now spend half their time on the app watching videos that are longer than 60 seconds. Plus, over the six months previous to October, creators who posted videos longer than one minute gained five times more followers than creators who posted videos shorter than a minute, TikTok said.
Based on these metrics, it’s considering upping its video length limit even further, to 15 minutes. That’s in testing right now. (Also worth noting: in December, TikTok is switching away from its $1 billion creator fund to a new method of monetization–one that only rewards creators for videos longer than a minute.)
There’s one caveat to that data, though. TikTok has never been forthcoming about how it measures a view. A view could mean a user watched five seconds of a video. Or maybe it’s percentage-based, and they watched 5% of the video’s total watchtime. Or maybe TikTok counts a “view” as the user simply scrolling to the video and then immediately scrolling away. We don’t know.
The metric that does seem to concretely indicate TikTok users are interested in longer-form content is the 5x growth long-form creators are experiencing versus short-form creators. People are clearly interested in following creators who make long-form content.
Matt Koval, who worked at YouTube for nearly a decade and was the platform’s first Creator Liaison, told The Information he isn’t sure that momentum will keep. A big part of the potential problem, he said, is the For You fast-swiping build into TikTok’s very core.
“They’ve trained viewers that this is a rapid-fire, dopamine slot machine,” he said. “Pull, pull, pull.”
On top of that, short-form content is appealing to lots of creators because it’s accessible to lots of creators. Just like in Vine days, the vast majority of content posted on TikTok, YouTube Shorts, Reels, and other short-form-centric platforms is made with your average smartphone, and nothing else. Longer-form content comes with an air of requiring more production value (though there’s certainly creators who do excellent lo-fi long-form), and therefore more equipment. Expensive equipment.
At its October meetup, TikTok told creators who are interested in long-form to try genres like lifestyle vlogging, storytimes, commentary, vlogs, tutorials, and challenges. It also nudged them to build hooks into the early bits of their videos, presumably to keep viewers used to short-term tuned in for a heftier watch.
Will this whole push to long-form pay off for TikTok–and for creators? It’s hard to say either way. With long-form, there will likely be more ad money to go around, and since TikTok’s new monetization program is ad revenue-sharing, that could be good for creators. But Koval is right: TikTok has trained its audience to move on quickly. And that could mean they’ll move on from this, too.