TikTok hits 2 billion downloads and it’s not slowing down

TikTok are flipping huge, there’s no denying it and they’re only growing more impressively every single month.

The latest from TikTok shows that the social video sharing app has been downloaded over 2 billion times worldwide. They revealed the incredible figure in the report for their most phenomenal quarter by far, joining a very small number of apps to have been downloaded so many times.

Their report showed that in the first quarter of 2020, TikTok was downloaded a mindblowing 315 million times. Their last quarter, Q4 2019 was nearly half of that at 199.4 million downloads for the quarter showing their popularity at an all time high.

In March the app, famous for sharing short videos of dances and skits, gained 5.6 million users in the United States alone. TikTok was the most download app in the first quarter of this year by far, with WhatsApp in second place over 100 million downloads behind at 205 million.

The Coronavirus pandemic around the world seems to have had a big impact. With so many people at home and so many places shut down there is a new surge in digital ways to stay entertained and connect. TikTok was already a hit and it’s an ideal app to share fun, funny and uplifting content in the current situation.

Facebook streamers can soon charge for their livestreams

Livestreaming artists rejoice as you’ll soon have one more option for where to earn for your home concerts.

Livestreaming was already huge before the world went into various levels of lockdown. Now it’s a huge way for people to connect, from personalities chatting to their supporters to artists all over playing concerts from home with their gigs cancelled.

Facebook have now revealed fairly quietly that they intend to allow creators to charge for their Live videos in the coming weeks. Twitch is currently the livestreaming favourite for many with its easy monetisation options but this could change the game up – having more options to monetise live streams on the world’s biggest social network.

In a new announcement Facebook spoke about changes they’re introducing to the platform. In a strangely low down part of the announcement they mention new features for live video on Facebook, Instagram, and Portal:

You’ll be able to mark Facebook Events as online only and, in the coming weeks, integrate Facebook Live so you can broadcast to your guests. To support creators and small businesses, we plan to add the ability for Pages to charge for access to events with Live videos on Facebook – anything from online performances to classes to professional conferences.

Thinking of artists doing concerts from home with the lack of live performances currently, this is a great option. You can charge fans a small fee for entry just like a real gig. This also may encourage artists to take their live streamed concerts to another level safe in the knowledge that they will make returns from each viewer.

Facebook already allows viewers to ‘tip’ and donate streamers. Charging for livestreams just gives another option for creators and streamers to make money at a particularly poignant time for it.

Twitch have recently hired an executive from Spotify to enhance their features and options specifically for musicians using the live streaming platform.

YouTube doubles down on fact checking on their site

YouTube are expanding their efforts to make sure that any news on YouTube is illegitimate with disinformation rife online.

YouTube is huge and full of videos on everything you could imagine, and then more. Amongst its leagues of content are a lot of news and information videos, from the news industry, independent sources, and just regular people.

As is unfortunately common on any populous website, this means that there is also a lot of disinformation on YouTube. People want to be assured that, whether its political news, global updates, economic issues, or even the sports scores, they are receiving factual information and as difficult as it is, it is up to these websites to make efforts to ensure that is the case.

YouTube have improved their legitimacy by enhancing their existing efforts to make sure that videos being watched can be trusted. For a start, they’re raising the prominence of videos that come from ‘authoritative sources‘. At the same time this should be push less trustworthy videos down lower.

They are also expanding their fact check information panels to a country that funnily is only now getting it, the United States. The feature was also made available in Brazil and India last year and hopefully YouTube will be expanding them further globally in the near future.

The fact check panels come up on certain search results when they’re about a specific claim. The panel will provide information from an independent third-party publisher on whether the claims related to your search are true, false or partly true.

It certainly comes at a poignant time when Coronavirus news is everywhere you look, and it’s crucial the information we receive on it is factual. As well, though it may be delayed, there is a US election approaching and misinformation has been at the centre of controversy over elections around the world in recent years.

YouTube said, in their announcement:

As always, it will take some time for our systems to fully ramp up. Our systems will become more accurate, and over time, we’ll roll this feature out to more countries. 

We are committed to our responsibility to protect the YouTube community, and expanding our fact check information panels is one of the many steps we are taking to raise up authoritative sources, provide relevant and authoritative context to our users, and continue to reduce the spread of harmful misinformation on YouTube.

You can read more on YouTube’s Blog and find links with more details about what they’re doing.

YouTube’s new ‘chapters’ are just what full album streams needed

YouTube’s new feature splits videos into sections you can skip between and it’s going to be great for music.

YouTube began testing their new ‘chapters’ feature earlier this month, which allows creators to split their videos into segments that viewers can skip between. The longer it’s being tested, the more great potential of this feature is becoming clear.

Having segments to videos that can be titled allows viewers to easily explore longer videos to find the precise topic or section. There are a whole range of video types this will be great for in a bunch of different ways.

Full Album Streams
There are plenty of whole albums available to listen to all the way through on YouTube. Usually, some hero in the comments has you covered for when you want to know the track names and titles.
With chapters, uploaders will be able to split the album into segments for each tracks with the title of each track so viewers can simply click and scroll between tracks. This is great for any kind of multi-track video from albums to compilations to soundtracks even live concerts and more!

Educational Videos
How-To videos are one of the many reasons YouTube is such an amazing resource. Whatever you need to know, you can bet someone has a tutorial on YouTube for it.
With Chapters, YouTuber’s can easily split up their educational videos by topics and steps to help people easily navigate different areas of an issue.

Some people go HAM on their reviews, looking at the entire ins and outs of the product they’re looking at. Chapters could make these reviews easier to digest for people looking for overviews who can skip between sections.
For example, if they’re looking at different aspects of the product in turn they can segment these sections and have an overview at the end.

When a livestream is over and there to be viewed ‘not live’ then you often have a video of over an hour. If the lives stream has distinct moments or if the streamer was doing a range of things like playing different games or doing different activities they can split their video to each of them.

News, Skits, & Comedy

News segments? Split ’em up. Different skits? Split ’em up. Comedy routine? Split it up! Anything that has different moments can make the most of YouTube chapters.

I’m sure that you can think of even more! That’s because this new feature is so versatile and useful. It’s still only in a testing stage but we’d be very surprised if YouTube didn’t launch this feature fully in the coming months.

Celebrities and educators come together on a series of new COVID-19 YouTube Originals

Great content is helping a lot of us to keep on going through the lockdowns and YouTube have announced some exciting new content.

A bunch of new YouTube Originals will feature celebrities, popular YouTubers and educators alike coming together to entertain viewers across the globe. Series will include a series of family-oriented videos from Joseph Gordon-Levitt looking at getting creative whilst at home.

A weekly series from YUNGBLUD follows the UK artist and his band adjusting to being at home and creating music during lockdown. Another series will see a bunch of personalities from celebs to learned peoples to explore learning and teaching from afar.

Susanne Daniels, the Global Head of Original Content at YouTube, says:

YouTube’s greatest strength is its ability as a global platform to build community and connection among people from all walks of life. We’re working to develop exciting new original content that is relevant, useful, and entertaining in order to deepen those connections and give people an outlet to come together.

The new Originals content will come in a range of one-time videos and ongoing series aimed at everyone from younglings to adults and cover a broad spectrum of different entertaining and informative content.

You can find a full list of all that is new here.

YouTuber’s using Fortnite’s Travis Scott performances this weekend have 30 days until they’re claimed

This weekend on Fortnite they’re having an ‘Astronomical’ event with Travis Scott and for a brief grace period YouTuber’s can earn money from videos of his performances.

In a very unique move, Epic Games are allowing a grace period for copyrighted music in their upcoming event. The event sees a bunch of new items and challenges launch in their hit Fortnite game.

The huge musical event will feature 5 performances from Travis Scott on Friday and Saturday, separated for different time zones. Of course YouTube and Fortnite are like bread and butter with gamers uploading videos of their gameplay with millions of viewers tuning in to watch their games.

To handle the issue of copyrighted music which will be included in the ‘Astronomical’ event this weekend Epic Games are holding copyright claims for 30 days from April 23rd. This means that YouTubers can make money from any videos using the performances or audio until the 23rd of May, after which they will lose the rights and no longer earn revenue from it.

Epic Games say:

We’ve worked with our partners to ensure that content creators can share this one-of-a-kind experience with their communities. You should be able to stream, make videos, and share across all platforms from April 23rd – May 23rd, without copyright claims or demonetization on content from the Astronomical experience.

After that 30 day window has passed, your video will be demonetized, but no strikes or takedowns should be issued. To ensure you can share your video content as safely as possible, we suggest you include ‘TRAVIS SCOTT’ in the title of your videos. If you receive a Copyright Strike prior to May 23rd on Astronomical videos, please appeal the claim directly with the rights holders.

The event takes place Friday 24th and Saturday 25th this weekend around the world on Fortnite. It will be the biggest musical event hosted by the game since Marshmello performed in-game last year – attracting 10.7 million players.

YouTube are introducing ‘chapters’ that split videos into skippable segments

YouTube are taking inspiration from that long-forgotten format the DVD for a new feature being rolled out now.

Do you remember the button on your old DVD player remote, usually next to the fast forward button, that allowed you skip forward through whole scenes? Rarely useful, but a feature none-the-less.

However, imagine the same feature but on YouTube where the diversity of content is so diverse that suddenly such a feature makes total sense. Tutorials where you can skip to the section you’re at, reviews where you can head straight to the features you care about, multiple topic videos which you can select where you want to start. It would be amazing for full album streams which can then split the video into tracks.

Sounds good, right? Well YouTube have actually begun to roll this feature out slowly on their video streaming platform. The feature of course has the potential to be great but could also possibly transform the norm on the video site.

As the feature becomes widespread content that would normally be split into separate videos may lead to longer cumulative videos. It will also likely lead to a trend in which creators introduce their videos with a layout of the content and advice on parts they can skip to if they’re after something in particular.

YouTube say of the new feature:

[April 10 2020] Testing new video chapters on mobile: to help you more easily navigate videos, we’re testing out video chapters, which allow you to jump forward to a specific section of the video, rewatch a portion of the video, and more. Chapters appear at the bottom of the video player and use timestamps from the creator’s video description. The feature will appear on a small selection of videos across Android, iOS and desktop while we gather feedback.
Note for Creators: if you’re in the experiment and wish to opt out, please adjust the first timestamp in your video description to be something other than 0:00 for example, just change it to be “0:01.

Disney+ hit 50 million subs in just five months

After launching last November in limited markets, video streaming service Disney+ has since expanded to over fifteen territories and signed up 50m subscribers.

Disney+ announced they had 26.5 million subscribers at the end of 2019. In 2020 they continued their roll out to eight European countries and have had a massive impact in India with 8m subscribers. In India Disney+ is merged with the already popular Hotstar streaming service.

These are very impressive numbers, considering they aren’t padded out with extended free trials. Disney+ only offer 7-day free trials. For comparison, Netflix currently hold 169m subscribers. It will be interesting to see Disney’s numbers grown as they expand into more parts of Europe, Latin America, Asia and Pacific over the next year.

“We’re truly humbled that Disney+ is resonating with millions around the globe, and believe this bodes well for our continued expansion throughout Western Europe and into Japan and all of Latin America later this year.”

Kevin Mayer, Chairman, Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International

Instagram reveal they have plans to monetise live streams

Instagram are looking at how they can “support creators and artists” who are using their ‘Live’ streaming feature.

Last week the co-founder of mobile game HaikuJAM, Neer Sharma, shared an interesting thread on Twitter. He describes in detail how artists are taking to live streams with gigs and festivals cancelled for the foreseeable future. But in particular he describes how these streams could, and perhaps should, be monetised so that artists could earn when they’ve lost their business and are still entertaining fans.

Sharma gave some food for thought as to how Instagram could monetise the streams of artists like Tory Lanez who had 200,000 viewers on his stream and James Blake whose live performance had 30,000. He even whipped up some neat little images showing how features like sending virtual gifts, adding a merch shop, and more could work.

The recommendations were so good that Instagram came on to comment on them. Their vice president of product, Vishal Shah said: “I appreciate the level of thought put into this thread. We are investing a lot into Instagram Live and have been thinking about many of the areas you’ve highlighted.”

Instagram’s head then piped up to add: “We have some plans in the works to support creators and artists using Live. Stay tuned.” Instagram will want to get to launching these features soon to best help artists while the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues.

We look forward to seeing what they have planned and will be sure to report on it when we hear about them.

Quibi’s new video streaming service officially launches

The new video streaming service that meets YouTube and Netflix in the middle has launched for iPhones.

Quibi is short for ‘quick bites’. It’s a new video streaming service that differs from any other. All of it’s content is short form (no more than 10 minutes) in the shape of episodes, short standalone pieces, or segmented chapters of longer content like films. It’s all original and now it’s available in the US on iPhones.

This week Quibi’s app became available across the United States offering it’s 90-day free trial to new users (presumably everyone at this stage). It’s a mobile-only app and is currently only available for iOS devices – hence it’s focus on short-form content.

They’re hoping to fill a gap that sits somewhere between YouTube’s easily accessible content of any type in sizes small enough to dip between and the well-funded, professional original programming of services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

They have roughly 50 original shows available at launch including a documentary series on popular musicians like Ozzy Osbourne, Ariana Grande, and Anderson .Paak and the professionals behind the scenes of their music. They are planning to have 200 shows available within a year of launched with nearly 10,000 episodes in total.

iPhone and iPad users can download Quibi now and start their 90-day free trial after which it costs $4.99 a month with adverts or $7.99 without.