YouTube’s attempt to mimic TikTok now extends to the living room. The company’s vertical Shorts videos now have native support on TVs, with a player that makes better use of all that normally wasted horizontal space. It still feels like utter overkill to watch these mobile-oriented clips on the big screen (unless you have Samsung’s rotating TV), but it’s still much more elegant than trying to use the standard landscape player.
The feature is rolling out in the next few weeks. It will be available on smart TVs made from 2019 onwards as well as living room media devices and “newer” game consoles. YouTube suggested in an explanatory video (below) that Shorts might work with older sets, but that compatibility wasn’t guaranteed.
It’s not surprising that YouTube poured so much effort into adapting Shorts for TVs. TikTok’s own TV app launched in November last year — this gives YouTube an answer to a major competitor. There’s a significant audience for Shorts, too, with over 1.5 billion monthly active users as of this spring. And while TikTok is theoretically behind ‘just’ 1 billion users (as of the third quarter of 2021), the gap is narrow enough that even a slight advantage in viewership could give one of them the lead.
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