TikTok confirms testing ad-free monthly subscription plan (report)

TikTok could soon charge users a fee for ad-free entertainment, joining the likes of X (formerly Twitter), and other media platforms that have implemented subscription models.

The popular short-form video platform has confirmed to TechCrunch that it is experimenting with this product, but only in a single, English-speaking market outside the US, disputing suggestions that the test will extend to the US market.

TikTok also emphasized that the “small-scale test” does not guarantee an imminent product launch.

The clarification comes in the wake of a report by Android Authority on Monday (October 2), referencing a code that indicated TikTok was offering a monthly subscription free of ads.

The code outlined the terms and conditions, seeking user agreement on data usage and the immediate initiation of the ad-free subscription, with VAT included in the price.

Android Authority said the ad-free TikTok experience would cost $4.99 per month in the US during the testing phase, although this was refuted by TikTok, telling TechCrunch that it is only carrying out a test in a single English-speaking market outside the US.

Meanwhile, TechCrunch said the blog’s findings suggest that the subscription service exclusively applies to ads served directly by TikTok and does not cover influencer marketing campaigns or one-off endorsements. 

The news outlet said this move may not fully address the issue of TikTok users failing to disclose brand sponsorships, including prominent names like Charli D’Amelio, whose family was recently reported to have formed a multi-million-dollar talent management venture with DamGood, a music-focused management company.

The test, if successful, marks a significant departure from TikTok’s conventional ad-driven revenue model. TikTok has primarily relied on ad-generated revenue.

The platform does incorporate a few revenue-sharing mechanisms for content creators, alongside a direct Live Subscription feature enabling users to directly support creators. 

It remains unclear how TikTok will distinguish its subscription offering beyond the ad-free experience.

The test follows TikTok’s “first-of-its-kind” multi-year licensing deal with Warner Music Group that included the joint exploration of “additional and alternative economic models.”

Details into the said alternative economic models have not been disclosed, and an analysis by MBW in July suggested that that might have to do with TikTok Music, a new music subscription app that TikTok launched in Indonesia and Brazil.

The TechCrunch report also did not say whether the monthly subscription plan was only limited to TikTok’s video. If successful, this trial could pave the way for a broader spectrum of subscription services, potentially encompassing TikTok Music or other TikTok offerings.

Elsewhere, earlier this year, TikTok’s Australia music test was slammed by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) and a British politician earlier this year, accusing the company of “silencing creators in favor of its own self-interests.”

It remains uncertain whether the new test is being carried out in Australia.Music Business Worldwide

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