TikTok is Entering YouTube Territory

December 29, 2022

TikTok, is testing a new horizontal full screen mode for select users globally. The feature, which can be accessed by clicking a "full screen" button on square or rectangle videos in the feed, expands the video to take up the entire screen of the user's phone.

This move into horizontal full screen viewing marks another way in which TikTok is entering into YouTube's territory. Earlier this year, TikTok enabled users to upload videos up to 10 minutes in length, attracting longer-form video creators who normally post on YouTube. This expansion allowed creators to film things like cooking demos, beauty tutorials, educational content, and comedy sketches without having to worry as much about the length of the video.

Now that TikTok has been supporting long-form content for some time, it makes sense for the company to enhance the viewing experience for users and the creative experience for creators. In the past, creators have had to add a "turn your phone" message at the start of horizontally recorded videos in order for users to fully enjoy the content. With the new full screen feature, creators will no longer have to do this.

While some users may welcome the test feature and the opportunities it brings, others may not. TikTok popularized the vertical video scrolling format, which other companies have since copied, so some users may not be fond of the switch to a horizontal full screen mode after being accustomed to the vertical format. It remains to be seen how TikTok's users will respond to the new feature.

It is currently unclear when or if TikTok plans to release the horizontal full screen mode widely to all users. It is also possible that the final product may differ from the test version. One possible change could be making the feature more intuitive, such as allowing users to switch to full screen mode simply by turning their phone sideways.

The test feature comes at a time when data shows that kids and teens are spending more time watching TikTok than YouTube. This has been the case since June 2020, when TikTok began to surpass YouTube in terms of the average daily minutes spent accessing these video platforms by users ages 4 to 18. By improving its viewing experience, TikTok is continuing to compete with YouTube.

However, YouTube is also competing with TikTok through its own short-form video platform, Shorts. In September, YouTube announced changes to its YouTube Partner Program, allowing creators to earn ad revenue on Shorts. This makes Shorts more appealing compared to other short-form video platforms that have not yet figured out how to share ad revenue. As both platforms continue to evolve and compete with each other, it will be interesting to see how the landscape of short-form video sharing changes in the future.