TikTok is testing out a new horizontal full screen mode with a small group of users globally, according to TechCrunch. Users included in the test will see a “Full Screen” button appear on videos in their feed. If the button is clicked, the video then shifts into a horizontal full screen mode that fills up you phone’s screen.
The Battle With YouTube
Since most users are fine with the current vertical mode, the question becomes “Why bother?”
Two reasons. Probably the biggest is that TikTok wants more YouTube users, so it wants them to be comfortable with the screen layout. The second is that it also wants more older users on the platform, and many prefer a horizontal full screen because, you guessed it, that’s what they’re used to using on YouTube.
TikTok already tried to eat into YouTube’s market share by extending the available video length to 10 minutes. This was to entice more professional creators and brands to use the platform, whose videos are usually in the minutes verses the 10 to 30 seconds that typical user videos come in at.
Kids and teens now spend more time on TikTok than on YouTube and that’s been the case since 2020. By the end of 2021, that demographic was watching an average of 91 minutes of TikTok per day compared with just 56 minutes per day spent watching YouTube. Understand that they’re not watching all at once. Instead they graze view throughout the day.
YouTube has responded with its own short form platform called Shorts, which is becoming increasingly popular. In September the service announced that it was making major changes to its Partner program allowing creators to earn ad revenue from shorts. The idea here is that if creators can make more money from shorts than on TikTok, that’s the platform they’ll choose.
What’s interesting here is that what seems squarely aimed at users actually has a more strategic objective in mind. There’s no guarantee that the horizontal full screen mode will be rolled all to all users, but just the fact they’re testing it tells us a lot about TikTok’s battle with YouTube.