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TikTok to surpass YouTube in US—and come after other apps in the process

The forecast: US TikTok users will spend more time with the social media platform this year than YouTube users will spend on YouTube. This difference will be just about a fraction of a minute but will expand in years to come.

Dive deeper:

  • Time spent scrolling through TikTok has been growing fast, and the app is notorious for pulling users in. In 2020, the platform shot past Facebook and Instagram, with users spending 38.6 minutes on TikTok, 4 minutes more than Facebook's 34.6 minutes, despite the social network seeing peek use.
  • Time spent with Facebook is now decreasing, and TikTok is targeting YouTube. The ByteDance-owned app rolled out 3-minute videos last year, then 5-minute videos a few months later. And in February, the app took a clear step toward long-form content with the introduction of 10-minute videos.
  • Over 40% of Gen Z spends more than 3 hours a day on TikTok, per Joy Ventures and getWizer. While that figure may sound incredible, around the same proportion of Gen Z spends more than 3 hours with YouTube, meaning social media addiction is not just a TikTok-specific problem.
  • Platforms are copying TikTok. TikTok is copying back. Instagram and YouTube are trying to take on TikTok's short-form dominance with Reels and Shorts, respectively. Meanwhile, TikTok is looking to other competitors, including Twitter with the introduction of a Repost function, Snapchat and Instagram with Stories, and Twitch with desktop livestreaming software.

Looking ahead: While TikTok's time spent will be tip top this year, the app's US ad revenues won't surpass YouTube's just yet. Per our forecasts, that'll happen in 2024, when TikTok nets $11.01 billion in US ad revenues, topping YouTube's $10.71 billion.