Stream Wars

By: Varun Tikku – WAVIT Copywriter

Pre-Fight Weigh In 

A plethora of Video On Demand (VOD) streaming services have permeated into our world, most of which are paid, yet two free VOD services have immeasurable influence over humanity; YouTube and TikTok. 

The battle between these two sites has reached a fever pitch. This fight has even shifted from the digital world to the physical as exemplified by Social Gloves: Battle of the Platforms’, a live streamed boxing event with 8 matches that took place in June. While YouTube won the battle at Social Gloves, the war is far from over. 

In the first corner, we have the greatest heavyweight champion of all time… YouTube!
YouTube arrived on the scene first in 2005, giving their creators more time to develop their techniques and create content for a wide assortment of interests. Its popularity is unparalleled worldwide, the Global Web Index reports that 44% of Baby Boomers, 75% of Millennials and 77% of Generation Z visit the site on a daily basis. We watch well over 1 billion hours of YouTube videos per day, that’s more than Facebook and Netflix videos combined.  

In the next corner, a rising star, shattering all previous records… TikTok!
TikTok is started up in 2016 and they knew that to compete in a YouTube dominated world, they would have to do things differently. They have specialized in short form videos, 1 minute is the length cap, this, along with the infancy of TikTok has resulted in less detail per video than YouTube. However, TikTok’s user engagement rates are through the roof, 90% of their users visit the app multiple times per day. 

Round 1YouTube 


YouTube has longer form videos which promotes a higher level of detail and analysis in each video. 

Youtube has been around for far longer, giving it more time to slowly develop content on a far wider variety of topics. 

Almost every demographic is included to a relatively equal level, making it an excellent marketing resource. 

Most content is created by individuals, who promote each other, including other brands, without YouTube having to lift a finger. 


Promotes long form videos and channels that post frequently, leading to those producing shorter videos or those who do not post frequently to loose out on a large amount of their potential viewership. This also promotes the industry of active, legitimate subscriber buying which skews a lot of the subscriber data on YouTube. 

Higher production cost, professional YouTubers cannot record on their phones, they buy expensive microphones with a wind guard as well as state of the art video recording equipment, proving to be a large barrier to entry for most. Another barrier is working with creators, which can be arduous and costly if you don’t have the advantage of influencer promoting programming to streamline your connections. 

Many creators have expressed their distaste towards the direction that YouTube is moving, as many creators have been losing advertising revenue due to YouTube policy changes such as those that stipulate that all content must be appropriate for young children. 

When YouTube introduced their notifications feature, it was turned on by default, leading to many users being bombarded by a sea of notifications, causing many of them to unsubscribe from several creators. They later introduced a bell icon to enable notifications, but seemed to selectively disable the bell icon for more controversial creators, causing further damage to the platform as a whole. 

Round 2TikTok 


Lower barrier to entry as TikTok hosts only short form videos, this combined with a built in editing feature makes TikTok far easier to use, especially for new content creators. 

Less competition as there are fewer brands trying to gain user attention, these users also have a higher engagement rate which suggests a greater degree of brand loyalty. 

It is the perfect platform to target Generation Z, 41% of users are between the ages of 16 and 24. 

The ‘For You’ page displays content from creators you haven’t subscribed to, giving creators, especially new ones, a fair chance at being seen. 


It is relatively new, hence its long term viability is debatable, regardless of its enormous short term success. 

The ability to effectively target Generation Z is a double edged sword, it results in TikTok being inefficient when it comes to targeting older audiences. Another downside is that 16 – 24 year olds do not hold much financial sway. 

It doesn’t have a fully fledged promotion plan, making it difficult for creators to invest. It also lacks a click to buy function, which is a huge hinderance to both marketers and creators who wish to monetize their content. 

There are some content format limitations, only video content is allowed, static graphics are not. This can prove challenging as videos require more investment and most brands require static posts alongside video posts. 


Round 3 

Some estimates suggest that if YouTube were a standalone company, it could be worth as much as $300 billion. This would make it more valuable than AT&T and Exxon Mobil, this figure goes to show the grand scale of influence that YouTube has over the world. 

While YouTube has been winning the war so far, TikTok has been growing at an unprecedented rate, to the point that it is now the first non-Facebook owned app to hit 3 billion downloads. Its focus upon short videos, in built editing features and it’s For You page fostered a welcoming environment towards creators, both old and new. 


Post-Fight Analysis 

YouTube seems to be the accepted, ideal platform on which to connect with most audiences in a more intimate manner. Their enormous user base and wide variety of demographics and interests make it an ideal place for marketers to seek links to any group of people, the ease of use is unparalleled due to the relative consistency of their trends. However, their user growth pales in comparison to TikTok, suggesting that YouTube’s reign may be ending. Another issue YouTube faces is its creators, most of which feel alienated by a slew of policy changes based on advertising monetization, which is most creators’ main source of income. 

TikTok is the ideal platform to target younger generations, especially Generation Z, yet so far, the older generations have been notably slower at adopting this new streaming site. Although, this may be due to the fact that older generations tend to be slower at adopting new technology. Another double-edged sword is TikTok’s tends, AKA challenges, they tend to have extremely high engagement rates and are relatively easy to start. However, these trends are highly unpredictable, making them risky to use to develop an audience connection, as nobody knows how long any TikTok trend will last. 

So far, YouTube is ahead of TikTok within a variety of metrics, barring user engagement and creator satisfaction. TikTok is not going to replace YouTube, that is not its role, its role is to create a new market for a different type of content and it has performed that role perfectly. YouTube has recently attempted to challenge their role by creating YouTube Shorts to address their lack of short form content, however this may end up harming the creators in the long term as YouTube Shorts are not currently monetized and this may shift user attention further towards short form content, causing less interest in the enormous amount of long form content on YouTube.