TikTok Reaches A Billion Monthly Active Users; NBCU’s Beef With YouTube TV Heats Up

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The Ten-Digit Club

Big ups to TikTok, which claims in a blog post to have one billion monthly active users around the world. For comparison, Snapchat passed half a billion monthly users in May, while Pinterest and Twitter reported 454 million and 330 million MAUs, respectively, last quarter. A grain of salt: TikTok is not a public company, and the Chinese parent company ByteDance is inscrutable to review. But even if the numbers are fuzzy, TikTok will be the first non-Google, non-Facebook app to reach one billion users and achieve mainstream adoption. Google’s YouTube, Search, Maps, Gmail and Photos have cleared the bar, and an honorary mention to the billions-strong Android user base. Facebook is near three billion global MAUs, and its apps Instagram, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are above one billion. The Chinese social network WeChat has more than a billion users, but hasn’t accomplished what TikTok has, and that’s to break out of the Chinese market and achieve high adoption in the US and Western markets.  

Channel Your Anger

YouTube TV and NBCUniversal’s carriage dispute is heating up. The companies haven’t renewed a deal to carry NBCU channels on YouTube TV, Google’s $64.99 per month TV skinny bundle. YouTube TV will cut $10 per month without NBCU, though studios usually prevail over distributors in carriage disputes. But NBCU has two unorthodox demands, according to a report by the research firm LightShed Partners. NBCU insists that a YouTube TV subscription cover a subscription to its Peacock streaming service – which wouldn’t be available through the YouTube TV interface, but would be a separate app the subscriber could access. NBCU also won’t sign a MFN (“most-favored nation” clause) for the duration of the deal. MFNs prohibit studios from offering superior rates to another distributor, and are industry standard. With an MFN, NBCU couldn’t offer its networks at a superior rate to Charter or Altice (... or Comcast). Comcast doesn’t have an vMVPD (aka its own skinny bundle), but if it launches one, it will want NBCU at a special rate. Another wrinkle: YouTube TV would lose subscribers without NBCU, and Comcast owns a third of Hulu and the cable TV service Xfinity, which could acquire those reshuffled TV accounts.

Big Gains

The latest Magna US advertising report forecasts ad sales to rebound by 23% to $278 billion in 2021, Adweek reports. That’s a serious bump from the $240 billion Magna predicted in March. The IPG agency attributed its bullish forecast to a better-than-expected economic recovery, as well as the Tokyo Olympics bolstering spend over the summer. Hard-hit categories – auto, finance, restaurants and retail – increased advertising by 50% or more this year, while travel and entertainment might triple their 2020 totals with states reopening and more vaccinated travelers. Though tripling 2020 returns still won’t be a return to normal for travel and entertainment (hotels and cinemas). The prospects are brighter in 2022, when there will be big “organic growth drivers” (i.e., another Olympic games and the midterm elections). 

But Wait, There’s More!   

Facebook created a $50M fund to “responsibly” develop its metaverse. [The Verge]

Google is appealing the EU’s $5B antitrust fine. [WSJ]

Google cuts cloud marketplace fees to match Microsoft cloud rates. [CNBC]

The FTC is expanding its privacy and security restrictions for health apps. [Digiday]

Publishers like contextual targeting, with more control of campaign performance. [The Drum

You’re Hired

Ford taps Alexandra Ford English (yes, there’s a relation) as global brand merchandising director. [Ad Age]

This article has been updated to remove an incorrect duration of the most-favored nation clause.

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