YouTube to roll out Shorts, its TikTok rival, in the US in March

The beta test expands to the US, after first launching in India in September.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva
2 min read

YouTube is launching its TikTok competitor in the US.

Angela Lang/CNET

YouTube on Wednesday said it will begin testing Shorts, a short-form video feature that aims to compete with TikTok, in the US in March. 

The Google-owned video platform first launched a beta version of Shorts in India in September. The feature lets creators upload videos that are a maximum of 15 seconds, and includes tools for adding music and splicing clips together. YouTube said the feature is getting 3.5 billion views a day. 

Now, YouTube is expanding the beta test to the US, Neal Mohan, YouTube's chief product officer, said in a blog post. "Every year, increasing numbers of people come to YouTube to launch their own channel," Mohan wrote, explaining the creation of Shorts. "But we know there's still a huge amount of people who find the bar for creation too high." 

As TikTok, a video service from the Chinese company ByteDance, has exploded in popularity, Silicon Valley giants have tried to capture some of its allure. In August, Facebook's Instagram launched its own TikTok clone, called Reels. Another attempt by Facebook to copy TikTok, called Lasso, was shut down last year

YouTube's announcement comes as TikTok's future in the US remains uncertain. Former President Donald Trump had sought to ban the app, citing national security concerns over the collection of user data. 

But the Biden administration has reconsidered Trump's efforts to prohibit TikTok. Last week, the administration asked a federal appeals court to pause the legal dispute over the app. The administration has also "shelved" a plan to sell off TikTok's US operations to Oracle and Walmart, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Google and Facebook have cloned other apps in the past as they've risen in popularity. Both companies released their own versions of Snapchat stories, which lets people post strings of videos and photos that self-delete after 24 hours. Facebook and Twitter are also trying to replicate the success of Clubhouse, an audio-only social network that has generated a lot of buzz. Twitter announced a similar service called Spaces in December, while Facebook is reportedly working on its own Clubhouse rival

On Wednesday, Mohan also previewed other changes coming to YouTube. He said YouTube TV, a premium subscription offering from the company, will debut an add-on package with 4K streaming and offline viewing. Mohan also said the company is testing new shopping tools that let viewers buy items directly on YouTube. The test will expand later this year, he said.