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The reason why videos on TikTok are becoming longer

Creators using TikTok's monetization tools are being asked to create long-form content, resulting in series aimed to attract loyal viewers while earning money.

As TikTok pivots to long-form storytelling, creators are introducing multipart episodes to monetize views and grow their audience, ushering in a new era of the platform and changing how users consume videos on the platform. 

TikTok user Reesa Teesa skyrocketed to internet stardom after she released a 52-part video series titled "Who TF Did I Marry?" on the social media platform. The lengthy saga clocks in at over eight hours, with each installment averaging roughly 10 minutes.

Teesa, who has not divulged her full name on social media due to safety concerns, chronicles the dramatic downfall of her marriage - and viewers cannot get enough. 

Teesa, a verified creator on TikTok, packaged her story in a bite-sized episode format, placing each video in a playlist for viewers to easily watch each installment - similar to a podcast or television series. 

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The viewership numbers are mind-boggling - with the first "episode" garnering nearly 29 million views, with the entire video playlist surpassing 300 million. In comparison, the 2024 Super Bowl averaged 123 million viewers across all platforms, according to the NFL

The success of Teesa’s self-made series suggests an appetite for long-form content on social media platforms, and it appears TikTok has taken notice. 

In 2023, the app announced that it would be rolling out a new way for creators to monetize longer format videos with Series. According to TikTok, "Series enables eligible creators to post collections of premium content behind a paywall which viewers can purchase for access". 

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Creators must fall into certain categories to use the feature, including having over 10 thousand followers and posting at least three public videos within 30 days of applying. A singular Series can feature up to 80 views, with each video lasting up to 20 minutes - double the usual length of videos posted to the platform. 

"This feature was truly made with you — our creators — in mind," TikTok said in a statement. "That’s why every step of Series happens directly on the platform [creators] know and love."

While Teesa’s series does not appear to be enrolled in the Series program, the concept of using episodes is gaining traction on the platform as TikTok appeals to creators to post long-format videos. 

TikTok creator Caroline Easom has risen to fame with her ongoing series, ‘The Sandwich Family’. The 31-part show chronicles the lives of a fictional family swept up in the business of content creation. 

Throughout the series, Easom can be seen playing the part of each character, often donning costumes and taking suggestions from her followers on ways to advance the story. The numbers speak for themselves, with Easom’s videos pushing 10 million views each. 

"I need a whole series on the Sandwich Family," one user commented on Easom’s first video introducing the saga. 

"Plot twist I was not expecting, I hope this series never ends," another user said.

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As creators shift away from TikTok’s hallmark short form videos and pivot to a method of retaining audiences through more complex storytelling, the app continues to roll out new incentives to keep users on the platform. 

Following the release of Series, TikTok did away with its popular creator fund, announcing it would be replaced with the roll-out of Creativity Program Beta. 

"If you are a creator or business owner in 2024, please do not sleep on the Creativity Program Beta," content creator Freddie Smith said in a video. "They are paying so well in this program. I've been in the program for six to seven months and it's been treating me very well."

The new beta program incentivizes creators to post minute-long videos by only monetizing content that meets their length requirement. The platform appeals to creators by promising them the possibility to earn "up to 20 times" more than previously allowed within the original fund. 

"If you normally post shorter videos, posting one-minute videos might help [creators] reach more viewers, especially those who are looking for more in-depth content not achievable in shorter form," TikTok said in a statement. "Also, one-minute videos can help you lean into more storytelling, educational, or informative content." 

According to data released by the Pew Research Center earlier this year, TikTok has experienced substantial growth since 2021, with 33% of U.S. adults using the platform - a 12 point increase since 2021. 

As TikTok pivots to a platform that features long-form content, creators continue to find new ways to maintain and grow their audiences. Television-inspired series, complete with character development and cliffhangers, appear to be one of the many ways TikTokers are hoping to appeal to viewers and continue to monetize the platform. 

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"If you're a fitness influencer, a food influencer, a makeup influencer, a lifestyle influencer, while you're building your brand, you can be getting paid," Smith, whose account @fmsmith319 has reached over 500 thousand. "If you're a business owner and, you're putting out valuable content, like even myself as a real estate agent, or if you're a mortgage lender, a chiropractor, a plumber, a landscaper. No matter what your business is for the first time, you can be getting paid while you're producing content and providing value and promoting your business."

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