X Elon Musk launches a YouTube clone

X Elon Musk launches a YouTube clone

Elon Musk Tesla

In a bid to compete with YouTube and recast itself as a video platform, Elon Musk’s X is launching a television app for Amazon and Samsung smart TVs, a source at the company told Fortune. The company plans to launch the app next week, and a source says it looks “identical” to YouTube’s TV app.

Musk’s goal is to encourage users to watch “long videos on a bigger screen,” part of a plan first teased in July designed to make X more attractive to online influencers and advertisers.

“He is set on competing with YouTube,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous because they weren’t authorized to talk to the press. The source cited live-streaming platform Twitch, the encrypted messaging app Signal, and the social media forum Reddit among some of the other services that Musk wants to compete with.

The launch of X’s TV app comes as the platform, formerly known as Twitter and mostly popular as a service for posting short text-based messages, seeks to play a larger role in the crowded streaming video market. In January, X declared that it was “now a video-first platform,” touting a new video feature reminiscent of TikTok’s immersive full-screen infinite scroll experience.

But the company’s plan to extend its reach from smartphone screens to living room television screens is hardly a novel move. Twitter launched TV apps on at least three other occasions, with the first versions dating back to 2010 on the now defunct Google TV platform and 2011 on Samsung’s Smart Hub platform for its SmartTVs. In 2016, after Twitter struck a $10 million deal to stream 10 NFL games, the company launched video streaming apps for Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Xbox One

Musk’s vision for streaming video seems to be focused around media celebrities, online influencers, and online video game streaming. The social media platform recently inked a deal with former CNN star anchor Don Lemon for a new show exclusively on X, and former Fox news pundit Tucker Carlson often publishes long-form video content on X, most notably a recent interview with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The billionaire owner of X has also urged content creators to migrate their entire video content to X, asserting that they stand to benefit from enhanced ad revenue streams. Mr. Beast, a prominent YouTuber boasting 243 million subscribers, put X to the test by uploading a full-length video and publicly disclosing his earnings. His first X video generated over $250,000 in revenue, but he called it “a bit of a facade” because he believes advertisers capitalized on its widespread attention, purchasing ads on his video and thus pumping up his earnings. Additionally, multiple appearances of the video in users’ timelines within a single day prompted speculation about potential amplification efforts by the X team.

Competing with YouTube, which is owned by Google, isn’t exactly easy, but luring creators with wads of cash could help X catch up. Nearly half of YouTube’s U.S. viewership was on TVs in 2023, according to the Information, and Nielsen in January revealed YouTube is the overall top streaming service in the U.S., with 8.6% of viewing on television screens (compared to Netflix, which saw 7.9% of TV usage.)

In a recent blog, YouTube announced that views of YouTube Shorts, its TikTok clone, have surged by over 100% on connected televisions from January to September 2023.

Despite the deals and features, X still seems to be bleeding users and advertisers, with a new report from Edison Research revealed Wednesday that usage of the platform has dropped 30% in the last year. Advertisers including Disney, IBM, and Apple, left X in droves after Musk said in a post that an antisemitic conspiracy theory was the “absolute truth.” He further alienated Madison Avenue by accusing advertisers of blackmailing X in an expletive-filled on-stage talk, leaving X currently reliant on strange ads from low-quality marketers and spam accounts

The valuation of X has also plummeted under Musk’s ownership. Fidelity, a shareholder in X, says the platform is now worth 71.5% less than when Musk acquired it for $44 billion, suggesting a valuation of roughly $12.5 billion. In November, Fortune exclusively reported an internal X all-hands where CEO Linda Yaccarino encouraged staff to “put your heads together to bring new revenue into the company.”

X did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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