TikTok creators could soon start charging users to watch their videos, report says

TikTok is exploring allowing creators to put up a paywall. (NurPhoto/Contributor/Getty Images)

TikTok creators may soon be able to charge fans $1 (around R18) — or more — to view their videos, a source familiar with the matter told The Information

The paywall is one of many features TikTok may introduce to its platform in an attempt to attract new users, according to The Information’s reporting. 

In addition to the paywall, TikTok is working on the Creator Fund 2.0 — a new version of the original Creator Fund it launched in 2020 — that will pay creators with more than 100,000 followers in an effort to keep them on the platform, insiders told The Information. One person told the publication that the new fund could launch as early as March.

The platform also wants to grow its user base by attracting older users. Only 21% of US adults currently use TikTok, according to a 2021 Pew Research study, compared to 67% of US teenagers, according to a 2022 Pew Research poll. The app hopes to get that older audience by introducing professionally generated content — videos that are more polished than ones shot on amateurs’ smart phones — current and former employees told The Information. 

“We’re committed to exploring new ways to create a valuable and rewarding experience for the TikTok creator community,”  a TikTok spokesperson told Insider, though they declined to comment on the specific features.

“On TikTok, anyone can be a creator and everyone can enjoy entertainment from our inspiring creators, and we aim to continue innovating this experience so people can express themselves, find their community, and be rewarded for their creativity,” the spokesperson said.  

These moves come after TikTok slashed its global ad revenue target by around $2 billion last November in response to slumping sales, and, per The Information, saw its user base decline throughout last year.

While CEO Shou Zi Chew and Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas said in last week’s all-hands meeting that the company does not have plans to layoff employees, it does expect hiring to slow down, according to The Information, and Insider reported last month that the company laid off members of its hiring team.

The new features will join a slate of pre-existing incentives for creators on the platform, including a marketplace for creators to connect with brands for sponsorship deals, and mechanisms for them to accept tips and attract paying subscribers to their livestreams. 

TikTok’s struggle to attract new users comes in stark contrast with the massive growth it saw over the pandemic.

TikTok’s ascent to global phenomenon has been incredibly quick. The app’s worldwide user base more than doubled between 2019 and 2021, going from 291.4 million to 655.9 million, according to Insider Intelligence. By the end of 2021, the app claimed to have 1 billion monthly users.

But by early 2022, TikTok’s adult user base in the US hit a plateau, per The Information.

Read The Information’s full report here

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