Tech

3-minute TikToks? No, God... please, no.

Our attention spans can barely handle a minute as is. But TikTok thinks longer videos will give creators more flexibility.

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TikTok is introducing a radical change to its short-form video app: longer videos. The company said in a blog post today that, soon, users will be able to create videos up to three minutes long. The cap currently sits at sixty seconds.

“Creators are already well-versed in weaving multi-part stories together on TikTok,” it said, “but we often hear from creators that they'd love just a little more time to bring their cooking demos, elaborate beauty tutorials, educational lesson plans, and comedic sketches to life with TikTok’s creative tools.”

There already exist some videos on the app that are longer than sixty seconds, as TikTok has been testing the change with select users.

TikTok’s whole vibe — The entire ethos of TikTok is to be an app of snackable content where you can look at something entertaining in between the busy moments of your life — or sit there at home, scrolling and binging tons of short videos in quick succession. On TikTok, users plow through an incredible amount of videos because they’re all so short. That has given the app lots of data with which to feed its freakishly good algorithm that decides what to show next. So, all sarcasm aside, making videos longer and therefore decreasing the amount of videos users will watch is kind of a big deal.

It could also have implications for creators, who might not necessarily be able to adapt to a longer narrative style. Online creators on YouTube and elsewhere have often struggled to translate their work to television because the format is very different.

It’s likely that TikTok is making this change in order to better compete with YouTube and even platforms like Netflix. In a presentation earlier this year, the company reported a statistic that 30 percent of U.S. users of TikTok said they watch less TV and streaming since joining the short-form video app. It clearly sees itself as a competing entertainment hub to those longer-format platforms. The end goal is getting as much as your attention as possible and pushing more advertisements.

Risk — Still, longer videos feel like a big gamble that could reshape TikTok and how it’s used to compete in the market for longer-form streaming. The question is, can TikTok stars adapt to a longer-form narrative video style, and will viewers spend as much time in the app if each video requires a greater commitment? Clearly, TikTok thinks it will work out fine and won’t alienate existing users.