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Clock ticking: TikTok is changing the short-form viewing experience by moving beyond the small screen

By Joe Tan

Even though time is becoming an increasingly precious commodity for many people, the appetite for more content continues to grow exponentially. With ever-busy schedules and limited attention spans, it is perhaps unsurprising that short-form content, led by platforms such as TikTok, has surged in popularity in recent years.

With a myriad of content offerings limited to a bite-sized 10 minutes or less, TikTok has grown to fill a niche where consumers are demanding quick, engaging and digestible content. Released in 2016, the short-form video hosting service has now set its sights on a grander mission of becoming a full-fledged entertainment platform catering to audiences across all types of screens.

Whether it is on a mobile device, cinema screen or TV screen, TikTok aims to provide users with an immersive and personalised experience that is engrossing as well as fostering user engagement and loyalty.

In an exclusive interview with APB+, Dan Page, Head of Global Distribution for TikTok, emphasised the video platform’s desire to extend its reach into the living room. He said, “Extending TikTok into the living room and onto bigger screens will offer people a new way to experience the entertainment, joy and creativity of TikTok.

“Whether it’s watching a movie review, learning a new recipe, or laughing at a funny skit, TikTok TV puts the right video in front of the right user at just the right moment.” 

But with TV being a less interactive medium than mobile, TikTok has had to think outside the box to revolutionise the viewing experience. Page revealed that TikTok is actively collaborating with partners to replicate the same captivating viewing experience that has propelled it to become one of the fastest-growing entertainment platforms.

For instance, the continued drive to innovate new strategies to elevate the community’s experience with TikTok onto the TV screen led to the launch of the TikTok TV app. 

Now available in countries such as Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines, the TikTok TV app is built for a home TV viewing experience, making it easy to watch content from the ‘For You’ and ‘Following’ feeds on the big screen. The app can be accessed on a range of devices, including Google TV and other Android TV OS devices, including Samsung smart TVs and LG devices.

For an even more personalised experience, users can log in to the TikTok TV app with their existing TikTok account. 

TikTok TV’s content strategy is centred around creating a curated lean-back experience that is family-friendly. Users can also opt for a more personalised experience by scanning their details via a QR code, which will then prompt TikTok to serve up content personalised for the user. Its TV app also offers the option to swipe videos similar to the TikTok native app, using a TV remote. 

In terms of formatting, most videos seen on TikTok TV will be vertically formatted, but Page anticipates a shift towards more videos being made in the traditional horizontal format, specifically for TV. He also envisions a future where viewers increasingly favour TV as a medium, resulting in the norm being full-screen video on TV and vertical video on mobile devices. 

He also advised creators and brands looking to post content on TikTok to “stick to what you’ve always done”. 

He explained, “This means being authentic to the platform. It’s what works, it’s what our users like and it feels more organic.

“Pay attention to what the trends are. Pay attention to who the creators are. Don’t try to crop your existing creative for TikTok. Instead, make a TikTok.”

TikTok’s aspirations are also extending beyond the living room, as evidenced by its participation with organisations such as Cineplex in Canada, where the latter showcases curated TikTok videos ahead of theatrical screenings.

TikTok has also collaborated with Loop TV, a music video, business TV and digital signage service, to stream content into diverse outlets in the US, including restaurants, hospitality venues, and dental clinics. To expand its reach even further, the platform intends to utilise digital billboards as a medium for displaying content, thereby reinforcing its presence in the advertising landscape. 

With over one billion monthly active users around the world, it would appear that TikTok is looking to consolidate its position as one of the fastest-growing entertainment platforms in the world by accelerating onto larger screens to gain more eyeballs.

According to a report from global research company Omdia released in October 2022, TikTok has surpassed Netflix to become the second most popular video service in the US, with only YouTube remaining the top platform for under-35 viewership. 

Omdia also found that time spent on viewing video content on social media platforms increased by nine minutes in 2021, with Facebook being the leading platform for social media video viewing time, followed closely by TikTok, which recorded the fastest growth rate among social media platforms. 

In South-East Asia, TikTok is gaining ground on YouTube among audiences in the region with both the ad-supported streaming platforms taking a chunk out of premium subscription services’ market share in Q2 of 2022, according to the South-East Asia Online Video Consumer Insights & Analytics report by Media Partners Asia (MPA). 

The report revealed that YouTube remains the market leader in the region, accounting for 54% of all online video consumption. However, TikTok’s market share increased by 14 percentage points year-on-year, now accounting for 37% of online video consumption in the region.

YouTube had 224 million monthly active users in the region, while TikTok had 173 million monthly active users in the same period. 

It is also unlikely that the TikTok bandwagon will be derailing anytime soon. Driven by factors such as enhanced creator and viewer participation, personalised and relatable content, and the availability of universally accessible and free content, TikTok will, in all likelihood, continue to grow in popularity and be the go-to platform for consumers looking for a quick content fix.

How TikTok continues to evolve to be a full-fledged entertainment platform catering to audiences across all types of screens in the not-too-distant future, is indeed a compelling development to monitor.

Watch this space; the clock is ticking away … tic tok, tic tok, tic tok

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