someone made a 3 minute tiktok but.. it was just flamingos merch ad 😭
— cal(mas) ☃️ (@helllajeff) November 30, 2020
Saw my first 3 minute tiktok. Wtf is happening
— mags 🤙🏽 (@okaymagsss) November 25, 2020
I JUST EATCHED A 3 MINUTE TIKTOK . WHST
— leah & charlie (@leahandhubby) November 26, 2020
DOES TIKTOK HAVE 3 MINUTE LONG VIDEOS NOW ???
— Cas ⚡️ (@CHARGEBOLTZ) November 24, 2020
This sort of reaction is about what you’d expect. After all, the heart of the TikTok experience has been feeding users a stream of binge-able, algorithmically curated content — the kind that doesn’t last long temporally but sticks with you for a while anyway. It’s also worth noting that TikTok stars itching to grow their followings haven’t just embraced the app’s video length limits; they’ve pioneered new on-screen tropes and conventions to make the most of those 60 seconds. In doing so — and like it or not — those creators helped shape a new generation of visual communication.
By upping the time limit to three minutes, TikTok is giving its fans more space to create — but there are also plenty of risks involved.
This change, for instance, may dilute some of the punchiness that made the app so successful. We’ve already seen one company waste hundreds of millions of dollars developing content that’s longer than TikTok’s but (generally) shorter than YouTube’s. (Quibi, we hardly knew you.) As some of these tweets suggest, the change is also at least initially somewhat jarring. Presumably, TikTok’s cautious rollout is designed in part to ease people into seeing longer videos, though whether people will watch them is a slightly different story. The most common joke about TikTok is that it ruins people’s attention spans, so it remains to be seen how the company’s hundreds of millions of monthly active users, all of whom have been trained to digest very short videos, will react to a change like this as a whole. If the company’s cautious rollout continues like this, it may be a while before we find out.
We’ve reached out to TikTok for comment, and will update this story if they respond.