New kid on the block

It’s official, people spend more time watching TikTok videos than YouTube
By Ella Joyce | Current affairs | 7 September 2021

TikTok has now officially overtaken YouTube in the average user watch time stakes. High levels of engagement with the video-sharing platform have been confirmed by data released from app monitoring firm App Annie, showing the UK and US average time per user spent on the app is higher for TikTok than YouTube for the first time. 

In spite of TikTok’s average user time increase, YouTube remains at the top of the leaderboard for overall time spent on the platform due to its larger audience number in general. Standing at an estimated two billion monthly users compared to TikTok’s suggested 700 million in mid-2020, the video giant that launched nine years prior still garners a mass audience. Jamie MacEwan of Enders Analysis told the BBC, “YouTube’s mass audience means it’s getting more demographics that are comparatively light internet users… it’s just reaching everyone who’s online.”

The ‘time spent’ metric also only takes into account Android devices and doesn’t include China where the app was founded – locally known as Douyin, its popularity has continued to grow in the nation. Forgoing these two important factors means the study may not quite be representative of ‘all’ mobile users but the easily accessible nature of the platform and its popularity can’t be denied. In fact, it became so popular that President Trump attempted to ban the platform in the US, believing its sudden surge into mainstream media unheard of and convinced it posed a security risk due to the apps ties to China. However, its quick 30-second clip format is here to stay and has made it the most downloaded app worldwide since 2020, producing a new world of possibilities for content creators and brand advertisement. This continued rise in success is noted by MacEwan, “Now we know that in the US and UK, TikTok has overhauled YouTube, and is reeling in Facebook… that’s a huge seal of approval.” 

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