TikTok’s longer videos are here to stay

The image shows the TikTok logo superimposed on a white background.
Illustration by Nick Barclay / The Verge

A year ago, TikTok introduced a new way for creators on the platform to make money: make longer videos. The invite-only Creativity Program, then in beta, required TikTokers to post clips longer than a minute to qualify for monetization, demonstrating a shift in how the company wanted people to use its platform. It was a move away from the so-called short-form video style that made TikTok a household name in the first place.

TikTok announced today that the program will be called Creator Rewards going forward, and content creators will need to make videos longer than a minute to monetize through the program. The previous creator fund, which didn’t have a requirement for video length, shut down in November.

Creator Rewards will calculate payouts based on an “optimized rewards formula” focusing on originality, play duration, search value, and audience engagement, the company says. Creators often complained of low payouts from the original creator fund, sometimes earning just a few dollars per millions of views. The newer fund for one-minute-long videos promises to rectify this, with TikTok saying that the program would result in higher payouts for creators. TikTok says that creator earnings have jumped 250 percent in the last six months, and that the number of creators making $50,000 a month has doubled.

As I wrote in January, it’s getting harder to distinguish what makes TikTok’s format different from classic YouTube videos: TikToks can be up to 30 minutes long, in some cases. The company also has been encouraging creators to post horizontal videos in exchange for the platform “boosting” that content. In other words: make the type of long-form content TikTok was disrupting five years ago. With TikTok incentivizing longer content, it feels all but certain that our feeds will move away from the pithy, Vine-like clips TikTok was known for.

In other monetization news, TikTok is also expanding who has access to premium Twitch-like features for livestreaming content. Live subscriptions will now be open to non-livestreaming creators, who can charge fans money for “exclusive content and benefits.” Livestreamers are able to sell perks like badges, emotes, and subscriber-only chats.

The news was announced at TikTok’s creator summit, signaling to content creators the platform’s priorities — and by extension, what the company wants creators to make. If you start to notice a favorite creator’s videos running longer, or are surprised when they start uploading content as horizontal clips, just follow the money.