Just like Instagram did with Reels, YouTube is launching a new short-lived video maker called YouTube Shorts that the company hopes will divert attention from TikTok.
Reports on YouTube’s short-form video maker were released several months ago, but now the company is rolling out an early beta that will begin in India. Similar to TikTok, Shorts will allow people to make 15-second videos that can be set to music. The music is available through an “in-product music selection feature,” a YouTube spokesperson said The Verge. The selector “currently has 100,000 tracks and we are working with music artists, labels and publishers to make more content available to continue expanding our catalog.”
These videos will appear on the homepage in a dedicated Shorts line, the company announced in a blog post today. Below you can see an example of what the shorts will look like.
YouTube will try to get as many people as possible to use its new Shorts feature, which includes new “create” icons that will appear prominently in the app. The “create” icon was launched with the Shorts beta on Android, with plans to bring the icon to iOS devices soon. There is currently no estimate for when the shorts may appear in other countries, including the United States, the YouTube spokesperson said.
One factor that the YouTube ad post tries to highlight for creators is the opportunity offered by YouTube. The site has more than 2 billion monthly users, noting that “we want to enable the next generation of mobile creators to grow a YouTube community with Shorts as well.”
“We actually introduced stories to YouTube and actually saw our creators really engage with the stories,” CEO Susan Wojcicki told NBC News’ Dylan Byers on an episode of her podcast. “It would be an example of really short form content. So we will definitely continue to innovate in all different format sizes, including very short format videos.”
The Instagram team seemed to have similar goals in mind with its TikTok clone, Reels, but the immediate response to the feature wasn’t super positive. Anecdotally, many of the videos that appear in Reels (from influencers and non-partner brands) that I see are direct reloads of other TikTok videos. But Instagram has probably never been a video entertainment platform before; YouTube is. The company hopes that considering people are already coming 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 keep uploading.