YouTube starts rolling out its TikTok competitor, YouTube Shorts

YouTube Shorts

The feature will roll out in India first.

Just like Instagram did with Reels, YouTube is rolling out a new short-form video creator called YouTube Shorts that the company hopes will take some attention away from TikTok.

Reports of YouTube’s short-form video creator tool came out several months ago, but now the company is launching an early beta beginning in India. Similar to TikTok, Shorts will let people make 15-second videos which can be set to music. Music is available via an “in-product music picker feature,” a YouTube spokesperson told The Verge. The picker “currently has 100,000s of tracks, and we’re working with music artists, labels and publishers to make more of their content available to continue expanding our catalog.”

These videos will appear on the homepage in a row dedicated to Shorts, the company announced in a blog post today. An example of how Shorts will appear can be seen below.

YouTube is going to try to get as many people as possible to use its new Shorts feature, and that includes new “create” icon spots that will appear prominently in the app. The “create” icon rolled out with the Shorts beta on Android, with plans to bring the icon to iOS devices soon. There is currently no estimate for when Shorts may appear in other countries, including the United States, the YouTube spokesperson said.

One factor YouTube’s announcement post tries to highlight for creators is the opportunity YouTube provides. The site has more than 2 billion monthly users, noting “we want to enable the next generation of mobile creators to also grow a community on YouTube with Shorts.”

“We actually have introduced stories on YouTube and we’ve actually seen our creators really engage with the stories,” CEO Susan Wojcicki told NBC News’ Dylan Byers on an episode of his podcast. “That would be an example of really short-form content. So we will definitely continue to innovate in all the different format sizes, including really short-form video.”

Instagram’s team seemed to have similar goals in mind with its TikTok clone, Reels, but the immediate response to the feature hasn’t been super positive. Anecdotally, many of the videos that appear in Reels (from non-partnered influencers and brands) I see are straight re-uploads of other TikTok videos. But, arguably, Instagram was never a video entertainment-first platform; YouTube is. The company is hoping that considering people already come to YouTube for short video entertainment, Shorts will be another way to keep people on the site longer and get both existing and new creators to continue uploading.

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