YouTube Shorts
Screenshot of the video player on February 6, 2024
Type of site
Online video platform
Headquarters901 Cherry Avenue
San Bruno, California,
United States
Area servedWorldwide (excluding blocked countries)
OwnerAlphabet Inc.
IndustryInternet
ParentGoogle
URLyoutube.com/shorts
AdvertisingGoogle AdSense
LaunchedSeptember 2020; 3 years ago (2020-09)

YouTube Shorts is the short-form section of the American video-sharing app YouTube. Shorts focuses on vertical videos at a maximum length of 60 seconds and various features for user interaction. As of March 2024, Shorts have collectively earned over 5 trillion views since the platform was made available to the public on July 13, 2021, which include video views that pre-date the YouTube Shorts feature.[1] Creators earn money based on the amount of views they receive, or through ad revenue.[2] The increased popularity of YouTube Shorts has led to concerns about addiction for teenagers.[3]

History

A 2022 video of Endeavour docking at the ISS in a format suitable for YouTube Shorts

YouTube's intent in the creation of YouTube Shorts in 2019 was to compete with TikTok,[4] an online video platform for short clips. The company started by experimenting with vertical videos up to a length of 30 seconds in their own section within the YouTube homepage.[5] This early beta was released only to a small number of people. Shortly after TikTok was banned in several Asian countries in September 2020, the YouTube Shorts beta was made available in the several Asian countries.[6] In March 2021, the beta was released in the U.S. and was later globally released on July 13, 2021.[7][8]

In August 2022, YouTube announced plans to make the Shorts feature available on its smart TV app.[9] In December, YouTube published its annual blog post documenting the top videos and creators of the year, with Shorts receiving its own section of the post for the first time.[10]

At the annual Made on YouTube event in New York in September 2023, Google announced YouTube Create, a video editing app designed for YouTube creators, in order to facilitate the growth of Shorts. At launch, the app was only available on Android.[11][12]

Features

YouTube Shorts presents user-generated vertical or square videos up to 60 seconds long.[13][14][15] It allows users to add licensed music and on-screen captions.[6] Viewers can scroll through an endless feed of videos.[7][16] Although intended to be watched on smartphones, YouTube Shorts can be viewed on all other devices.[17]

YouTube Shorts includes features that are similar to those of TikTok, such as live videos, “collabs”, easy editing tools, and playlists.[4] It also includes tools that edit long-form YouTube videos into YouTube Shorts.[4] YouTube Shorts offers creators the ability to interact with viewers by responding to comments with additional videos, a feature primarily made popular by TikTok.[18] Shorts creators can also use stickers to interact with their audience through formats such as Q&As.[4] The Financial Times reports that fewer than 10 percent of creators use YouTube's editing tools for Shorts.[19] Many use TikTok's tools instead, though videos with TikTok branding are downgraded from YouTube's platform.[19]

YouTube Shorts added a feature that sends default reminders to users ages 13 to 17 to take a break or go to bed due to the increase in young users.[3] There is currently no measure to restrict the use of the application.[3]

Usage

Since its inception in 2019, the usage of YouTube Shorts has continuously increased. In September 2022, Alphabet announced that YouTube Shorts generated over 30 billion views daily.[2] The number of monthly users also increased from 1.5 billion in 2022 to 2 billion as of 2023.[3]

The popularity of YouTube Shorts has caused some concerns within the company, with some believing that it will "cannibalize" YouTube's long-form video content.[19] YouTube's official response is that Shorts is designed to be an additional format option for creators.[19]

Monetization

In August 2021, YouTube released the YouTube Shorts fund, a system in which the top Shorts creators could get paid for their work. YouTube described this as a way to "monetize and reward creators for their content" and said it would be a $100 million fund distributed throughout 2021 and 2022, similar to TikTok's $1 billion creator fund.[20] YouTube told The Hollywood Reporter that the fund is "just a stopgap until YouTube develops a long-term monetization and support tool for short-form creators".[21][22][23][24]

In September 2022, YouTube announced that Shorts would become part of the YouTube Partner Program starting in February 2023.[2][25][26] The program allows eligible creators to receive a share of the ad revenue.[2] Partnered YouTube channels can also utilize the 'members' and 'supers' features that allow users to pay a monthly subscription for the content or a one time donation respectively.[27]

YouTube Shorts creators receive a percentage of ad money earned on ads that play before and after their videos similar to YouTube.[28] Creators on YouTube Shorts earn 45 percent of the ad money, while creators on YouTube earn 55 percent.[28]

According to the YouTube policies, creators who upload content with some degree of copyright infringement, non-original content, or other violations of the community guidelines will not be eligible for monetization.[29]

Health concerns

Researchers from the Guizhou University of Finance and Economics and Western Michigan University found that short-form videos like YouTube Shorts and TikTok may make it easier for young adults and children to develop addictive behavior because short-form videos provide "short bursts of thrills."[30] These researchers found that college students in the U.S. and China watch short-form videos for entertainment, knowledge, and to build social identities.[3]

The Wall Street Journal reported that some parents are concerned about the effects of short-form videos on their children, as there is no way to disable YouTube Shorts or set limits.[3] When children watch short-form videos, they learn to expect continual stimulation and fast-paced changes, which can cause problems when engaging in activities that require greater focus, such as reading.[3]

Recent studies highlighted the connection between short-form videos such as YouTube Shorts and the brain's reward system, specifically dopamine release. According to Dr.Anna Lembke, a psychiatrist and chief of Stanford University's dual diagnosis addiction clinic, brief attention-grabbing videos act as powerful stimuli triggering dopamine surges akin to other addictive behaviors.[31] The rapid and easily consumable nature of short-form videos can elicit high levels of dopamine; since dopamine serves as a motivator rather than a direct source of pleasure, individuals are compelled to seek rewarding activities and become addicted to them. Such neurochemical responses lead to addictive patterns and behaviors, entering a vicious cycle. Digital addiction can lead to shorter attention spans and slower cognitive processing.

References

  1. ^ Spangler, Todd (January 25, 2022). "YouTube Shorts Tops 5 Trillion Views to Date, Platform to Test Shopping and Branded Content for TikTok-Style Videos". Variety. Archived from the original on May 2, 2022. Retrieved February 17, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d Pierce, David (September 16, 2022). "YouTube is turning on the money hose for Shorts — and taking on TikTok for real". The Verge. Archived from the original on November 9, 2023. Retrieved November 9, 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Jargon, Julie (August 12, 2023). "This Was Supposed to be the Antidote for TikTok Brain. It's Just as Bad". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Archived from the original on November 9, 2023. Retrieved November 9, 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d "YouTube's Shorts already rivals TikTok with 2 billion views per month. Now it has 'collabs,' stickers for audience participation and other new features". Yahoo Finance. August 1, 2023. Archived from the original on November 9, 2023. Retrieved November 9, 2023.
  5. ^ "YouTube test features and experiments - YouTube Community". Archived from the original on March 7, 2020.
  6. ^ a b "YouTube Shorts launches in India after Delhi TikTok ban". The Guardian. September 15, 2020. Archived from the original on February 9, 2021. Retrieved February 15, 2022.
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