YouTube Shorts launches in Kenya to rival TikTok

The Google and YouTube logos. Google-owned YouTube has temporarily suspended American President Donald Trump's channel.

The Google and YouTube logos.

Photo credit: Robyn Beck | AFP

YouTube has announced the arrival of the beta version of YouTube Shorts in Kenya, the company’s new short-form video experience for creating short, catchy videos using mobile phones that's meant to rival TikTok.

Shorts, which was first announced in September 2020 in 26 countries, will now be available across more than 100 countries around the world where YouTube is available.

While short-form videos were already viewable on the platform, users in Kenya and around the world will for the first time access Shorts’ creation tools. 

This will include a multi-segment camera that enables them to string multiple video clips together, the ability to record with music, control speed settings, and more.

“We want to make it easy and fun to create Shorts,” said Todd Sherman, Global Product Manager for YouTube Shorts.

He added: “As we continue to build Shorts alongside our creators and artists, we will be adding more features for users to try.”

Timed with the product’s international expansion, YouTube Shorts comes with a new set of features where users can add text to specific points in the video, automatically add captions to the Short, record up to 60 seconds with the Shorts camera, add clips from the phone’s gallery to add to the recordings made with the Shorts camera and add basic filters to colour correct the Shorts, with more effects to come in the future.

Asked about why social media companies are copying each other, Mr Sherman responded that YouTube’s design of short video experience began as an independent project and is by no means an attempt to copy what TikTok is doing.

Though the company believes Shorts will differentiate itself from TikTok by way of its connection to the larger YouTube platform, other social media players with huge following such as Instagram and Snapchat have done the same with Reels and Spotlight, respectively.

The new features also include the ability to sample audio not only from other Shorts but also from videos all across YouTube. This includes billions of videos worldwide, and unlocking a new playground of creativity.

This means that users can give their creative spin on the content they love to watch on YouTube and help find a new audience — whether it is reacting to their favorite jokes, trying their hand at a creator’s latest recipe, or re-enacting comedic skits. Creators will be in control and will be able to opt out if they do not want their long-form video remixed.

When it comes to music, artists and creators will have a large library of songs to use in their Shorts from over 250 labels and publishers, including Universal Music Group’s labels and publishing companies, Sony Music Entertainment and Sony Music Publishing, Warner Music Group and Warner Chappell Music, Believe, Merlin, Because Music, Beggars and Kobalt.

Helping people find Shorts to enjoy and creators get discovered is also a key component of the product experience.

Ahead of the Shorts launch, YouTube introduced a row on its homepage especially for Shorts, launched a new watch experience that lets you easily swipe vertically from one video to the next, and will soon add a Shorts tab on mobile that makes it easier for users to watch Shorts with a single tap.

“As of today, the YouTube Shorts player has surpassed 6.5 billion daily views globally. It will be integrated into the YouTube experience users already know and love. 

"For example, if a user hears a snippet of a song on Shorts, they can easily find the full song, watch the music video, or learn more about the artist — all on YouTube,” he adds.

YouTube has helped an entire generation of creators turn their creativity into businesses and become the next generation of media companies. Over the last three years, YouTube has paid more than $30 billion to creators, artists, and media companies. 

With Shorts being a new way to watch and create on YouTube, the company has been looking at various ways to monetize Shorts and reward creators for their content, including the recently announced YouTube Shorts Fund, a $100M fund distributed throughout 2021-2022.

“We know that it will take us time to get this right, and we're just getting started. We can't wait for you to try Shorts and help us build a first-class short-form video experience right on YouTube” Sherman said.

 The Shorts beta will be available to everybody in Kenya by Wednesday, July 14, 2021.


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