YouTube has hinted that Shorts are doing well, but it's now clear just what that means. As TechCrunch reports, YouTube has revealed that Shorts now has over 1.5 billion active, signed-in monthly users. For context, arch-nemesis TikTok had racked up 1 billion monthly users as of September 2021 despite being around for considerably longer (and serving as an inspiration for Shorts' very existence).
The short-form format also appears to have helped YouTube's more conventional videos. The Google brand said that channels posting both Shorts and longer videos were enjoying improved subscriber growth and watch time than creators only uploading lengthy clips. YouTube saw this as reflecting the "reality of today's viewer" — that is, a tendency to watch varying content at different times and places. You might watch a Short during your commute, but a lengthier video during your lunch break.
The statistic is clearly meant to position Shorts as serious competition for TikTok and Instagram Stories. It could also attract creators who weren't convinced Shorts could help them make money. However, the announcement also dances around the increasing overlap between products. Instagram already had the option of watching longer videos, while TikTok recently extended its maximum length to 10 minutes. YouTube's varying video sizes aren't unique.
With that said, YouTube's pitch for the monthly user figure also indicates different priorities. It sees Shorts as a way to boost creators' long-form work, while Instagram and TikTok treat long-duration videos as options for social media stars who normally focus on smaller content. YouTube's not necessarily determined to outperform challengers in every metric — it just needs to show that Shorts are popular enough to help channels grow.