- TikTok launched a connected TV app for Amazon Fire TV last week.
- We think the app needs more robust user-generated content offerings and TikTok’s recommendation algorithm in order to achieve success.
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TikTok launched its first connected TV (CTV) app last week on Amazon Fire TV devices, called “More on TikTok,” as it explores longer-form video beyond the current 60-second maximum on mobile.
To that end, the TV app will feature two main kinds of content: curated compilations of popular TikToks and exclusive interviews with major TikTok influencers. For now, CTV distribution is experimental. In addition to the limited selection of content, users won’t be able to log in with their mobile credentials, and the app won’t feature any ads at launch. Though we think ads are a long-term strategy—which would enable the app to capture CTV ad spending as well—until the company adds features from the mobile app that the TV app is missing, we don’t foresee it taking off just yet.
Without a robust offering of user-generated content (UGC) and a powerful recommendation algorithm—the main drivers of TikTok’s mobile success—we think the TV app will suffer. More on TikTok will focus on driving lean-back viewing that’s typical of long-form video consumed on larger screens, which could pan out as a positive.
TikTok’s mobile app necessitates manually scrolling through videos, and that wouldn’t translate well to TV. However, the new offering is a departure from TikTok’s core appeal, which we think will stunt the TV app’s growth. Specifically, the personalized aspect of the app will be entirely removed, at least for now, and users won’t be able to log in to follow creators or access algorithmically recommended content. Launching without this functionality is a perplexing move, given how TikTok’s “For You” recommendation page is central to its mobile app.
For now, More on TikTok will allow the company to capture incremental viewing from larger-screen CTV devices, even though most viewing is still likely to occur on mobile. In the first six months of 2020, apps on Fire TV from mobile-first developers (like Facebook Watch and Peloton) saw an increase in hours watched of more than 70% compared with the prior six months, per stats Amazon provided to Business Insider.
More on TikTok seems to be aimed at capturing some of this growth, but that depends on whether TikTok users who own Fire TV devices migrate to viewing on larger screens. Screen time has gone up across the board during the pandemic, with mobile likely receiving the largest boost among Gen Zers in particular. According to a May 2020 survey by GlobalWebIndex, the vast majority (79%) of Gen Z internet users worldwide—the cohort that makes up TikTok’s key demographic—reported increasing their time spent on their mobile phones. Nevertheless, nearly a quarter (24%) of Gen Zers still said they had been spending more time on smart TVs during the pandemic.
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