Social Mixer 2024 Singapore
marketing interactive Content360 Singapore 2024 Content360 Singapore 2024
Can TikTok TV's Asia foray dethrone 'premium' OTT players?

Can TikTok TV's Asia foray dethrone 'premium' OTT players?

share on

TikTok TV has made way down to Asia launching in Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines to name a few.  Through TikTok TV, an app which was built specifically for the TV home-viewing experience, users can watch trending and viral videos through the “For You” and “Following” sections, much like the mobile application. Users can also log into their existing accounts though the TV app, so they don't lose their progress.

The app is currently accessible on Google TV, Android TV, and Samsung smart TVs. It will reportedly come to LG smart TVs very soon. TikTok's launch of TikTok TV so far has been very positive with media intelligence company CARMA reporting a "surge in social conversations" when news of the new app broke.  "Sentiment of social conversations revolving around TikTok TV in the first 24 hours since the news was released, is largely positive at 46%. Associated keywords include “joy”, “entertaining”, and “inspire”," noted a spokesperson from CARMA. She added that it's clear that there is anticipation for the app and that curiosity has been piqued. 

"We can expect more social conversations over the next few days as consumers give it a go and share their experiences or opinions about TikTok’s latest development online," she continued.

carms tv3

Don't miss: Charles & Keith’s brand health metrics soar in the wake of TikTok incident

Since its launch in 2016, TikTok has steadily worked to improve its offerings and to stand out as more than just an entertainment or social media platform.

"This shift has enabled more brands to tap onto the platform, no longer limiting success to consumer lifestyle brands, which previously enjoyed lower barriers of entry in creating more relevant content that resonated with the platform’s audience consumption patterns," said Freda Kwok, the head of strategy and social at digital creative agency Germs Digital. With more brands and creators on board, the type of content that is created on TikTok also caters to a wide group of people from different backgrounds, professions and age demographics rather than just the younger crowd that it is often deemed to be targeting. "It is now a strong contender within the social commerce space, proving its utility as a native platform that can capture interests from first to last touch point, said Kwok.

Building on the idea that TikTok has evolved into an app that is more than just for young people, Vaibhav Chopra, the client services director of M&C Saatchi Performance, said that the biggest user habit that has led to TikTok deciding on its TV strategy has been the shareability element, along with the rise of connected TV (CTV) in the region.

"As a user, your first instinct when you stumble upon a viral video is to share it with your friends or family and what better now that you can watch it together at the same time communally on your living room TV?" he asked. 

TikTok TV is a strategic choice made by the brand to move away from screens being a limitation.

"The upside potential is also limitless, maybe TikTok expands to horizontal, wide videos too – who knows, but definitely a possible route in the future," Chopra said. 

Adding on, Vijay Kunduri, the regional vice president of OTT and CTV at PubMatic said that TikTok may be looking at competitors such as Meta and YouTube and the moves they have made in expanding onto the big screen, such as the extension of YouTube Shorts onto TV, and aiming to replicate this model to position TikTok as a fully integrated platform. "In doing so, TikTok continues to be a serious competitor for ad budgets. With its app embedded or available across as many smart TV platforms as possible, TikTok may be looking to push its ad dollar share beyond 15-second videos on a big screen and looking to tap into bigger linear TV budgets."

How will it affect advertising spend?

Besides expanding its viewership, TikTok's move to television also has advertising benefits. "With the boost in CTV viewership across Southeast Asia comes more ad inventory and significant brand opportunities for TikTok. The other bigger potential is the opening of untapped segment such as GenX or Baby Boomers who are not the core users for TikTok. With the CTV viewing experience, many young users will bring in their families in the living room together to binge on TikTok."

Adding on, Neeraj Gulati, a partner at Entropia said:

At a fundamental level this is a battle of high production cinematic storytelling verses short form user generated content.

"Over the years we have seen an explosion in the short form video content consumption, clearly the growth seems to be slowing down and hence it's a strategic move from individual lean in consumption to family lean back model. It's a step towards not just adding a distribution platform but turning the consumption habit on its head," he said, adding that it will be interesting to see how this plays out and that he is certain OTT players are watching the movements closely. 

For marketers, this is a very encouraging step as advertising's most important role is to drive fame for the brand. "To the marketing industry this brings best of both worlds - TikTok eyeballs and big TV screens with more immersive experiences and better creative delivery. YouTube ads have proven this model works, what is yet to be seen is does TikTok have the appeal to move individual consumption habits to shared one?" he asked. 

Agreeing with Gulati, Kunduri said that TikTok's foray into TV will no doubt excite advertisers but that there are several hurdles it must first overcome before it can brand itself as ready for prime time.

"Firstly, it is the inability to watch live videos on TV, a feature which have so much traction on mobile. Secondly, the documented legal challenges from various governments on the grounds of security and user safety that will likely give advertisers pause. This is in contrast to premium OTT content, which advertisers have largely accepted as an extension to linear TV," he said. As such, TikTok will have to convince advertisers that its TV offering are similarly premium and that it will deliver the same results.

Short- form snackable content on TikTok versus long form immersive content on Premium OTT?

So is it a “faceoff” or “friends with benefits”?

According to Ranga Somanathan, founder of RSquared Global Ventures said intuitive and insightful video feeds on short-form platforms such as TikTok have captivated audiences worldwide.  This is fuelled by the viewers need to lean-back and be fed likeable content in an unending stream. With short attention spans and craving for instant gratification, consumption of snackable videos typically start as an in-between task, and eventually ends up permeating into the productivity window of the individual. 

On the other hand, premium OTT content offers brilliant storylines, professional performances and great production values delivered into consumers’ homes, giving them a mini theatre experience within the comforts of your living room, said Somanathan.

People come to these platforms, when they have more time to commit, and seek a ‘bigger meal’ than just a ‘snack’ of entertainment.

“In my opinion, the need state for snackable content and ‘big-meal’ content are different and will continue to co-exist,” he said. He added that with decision fatigue setting in, dealing with abundance of choice within premium OTT environment, can be eased with the synergies in promotion and selection of content that TikTok curates.

"As such I see more mutual growth than cannibalisation of audiences, with the launch of TikTok TV. From the audience perspective, TikTok’s foray into Television sets will augment the viewing experiences for the people,” he added.

Adding on, Bryan Leong, the head of strategy at The Chariot Agency said, "It's too early to say whether TikTok will become a premium OTT platform, given that TikTok’s focus has always been on short-form, user generated video content rather than premium, professionally produced and longer form content which is what currently defines premium OTT." He continued by saying that should this change, TikTok does have immense potential to offer advertisers unique and effective advertising through the power of its algorithm-driven content recommendation and user data which allows better targeting.

Will TV kill the endless scroll?

A large part of TikTok's huge success lies largely in its endless scrolling feature and "For You" page, powered by its algorithm, which allows users to experience uninterrupted scrolling and endless new videos, keeping them on the app for longer. The feature also allows the app to learn user behaviors better in order to deliver relevant content that again, keeps users hooked on the app. With TikTok coming to television, the interface changes and with that, the option to scroll endlessly changes.

Saying that, this might not entirely be a bad thing considering that concerns have been raised in recent years about the app's addictive quality. Last year, in response to concerns, TikTok introduced a feature on the app to discourage infinite scrolling. The feature allowed users to deactivate continual scrolling, place limits on how long they can watch videos on the app, and also monitor their user activity. 

At the same time, the whole lure of the app seems to lie in this feature and industry professionals seem confident that this will not detract from the app's draw. "YouTube and Netflix have already proven the model by ensuring a seamless auto-play function along with a strong AI algorithm that continues to push for relevancy. Not to mention that most smart TVs are also innovating in gesture reading which can be a big push for TikTok engagement rates on TV," said Chopra.

Agreeing with him, Leong said, "TikTok could potentially replicate the endless scrolling feature on TV by tailoring its TV app to offer a similar level of personalised content recommendations that keep users engaged and entertained, or even enable the swipe feature to navigate through content which would bring it closer to its mobile app appeal."

Content 360 is back on 10-11 May 2023 in Singapore. A hugely popular event over the years, Content 360 brings the most influential content creators to inspire you. Across two days, you can connect with 300+ brightest minds in the industry and learn how to overcome challenges to make your content stand out among the crowd. Tickets are on sale now, register today:

Related articles:
Study: Is TikTok going to be the next king of search in SEA?
TikTok TV makes its way into Indonesia
Why Ascott opted to use TikTok over all other social channels for its Citadines launch

share on

Follow us on our Telegram channel for the latest updates in the marketing and advertising scene.

Free newsletter

Get the daily lowdown on Asia's top marketing stories.

We break down the big and messy topics of the day so you're updated on the most important developments in Asia's marketing development – for free.

subscribe now open in new window