Instagram Reels, Sharechat, Chingari… What Will Fill the TikTok-Sized Hole in Indian Entertainment?

Pop Culture

Instagram Reels, Sharechat, Chingari… What Will Fill the TikTok-Sized Hole in Indian Entertainment?

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

One man’s loss, is another man’s gain. It is certainly true for the 59 Chinese applications that were banned by the government on June 20. The vacuum left by heavyweights like TikTok and Helo has been filled up either by new entrants, or competitors waiting to pounce on the millions of users who are now left searching for a new platform. US social media giants like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube have seen windfall gains in the aftermath of the ban.

Almost as if on cue, Instagram launched Reels in India within days of the TikTok ban. Since the government banned the Chinese applications, the average daily time spent on Instagram has gone up 2.3 times. The #BoycottChina sentiment has also led to millions of users jumping ship to Indian platforms. Chingari saw its downloads increase from one lakh to one crore in just one month of June 2020. At its peak, the app saw a download rate of six lakh per hour.

Similar patterns were seen with even other Indian-based apps like Mitron and Roposo. We did a complete breakdown of all the TikTok alternatives on Arré’s first infotainment weekly show, Arré Suna Hain?, on Instagram.

 

Arré Suna Hain?, featuring Paras Tomar, is also available on Facebook and Twitter. This week’s episode is themed around what’s next after TikTok.

According to a study by online insights measurement company Kantar, the time spent by Indians on social media and video apps has not come down drastically, which means that users have moved over to other or newer platforms. “The average time spent dropped only marginally – by 6% – from 6 hours 37 minutes to 6 hours 15 minutes, indicating that consumers are switching over to rival platforms much faster than anticipated,” the analysis showed.

The bulk of this additional engagement is being driven by smaller-town consumers. Among the youth audience aged below 24 years, the average time per day on Instagram grew by 35%. Sharechat, India’s own video-sharing platform which focuses on content in regional languages witnessed a 2.5X increase in time spent, driven by the younger faction of internet audience.

While users have moved platforms from Chinese applications, advertisers are employing a wait and watch strategy. An executive at a cab-hailing company told The Indian Express that, “Influencers on TikTok have a significant reach in smaller towns and they also come at a lower cost than celebrities,” pointing out that the cost of hiring an Instagram influencer was over 10 times higher. In addition, a TikTok influencer’s reach would be much more targeted.

The app war in the short content format is only heating up. Companies are looking to get millions of users on their platforms, influencers are looking at newer avenues to make money and brands are trying to figure out where to place their bets. One thing is for certain though, that users have not left their phone screens and continue to consume and create new content.

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