TikTok announced this morning it’s expanding its TikTok LIVE platform, which currently allows creators to livestream to fans while responding to viewer comments and questions and accept virtual gifts. Now, the LIVE experience will include a number of new features for creators to make it more competitive with platforms like Instagram Live, including the ability to go live with others, host Q&As, use moderators and improved keyword filters, and more.
For viewers, TikTok is also adding new discovery and viewing tools, among other changes.
The company recently teased some of the LIVE updates to creators across social media ahead of today’s announcement.
According to TikTok, select markets have already had access to LIVE Events, which is a new tool that lets creators better plan their upcoming LIVE sessions.
Creators can schedule and promote their event in advance to build anticipation across their community, while fans can discover, register, and then get notifications and reminders when the LIVE Event is about to begin. Scheduling tools are a fairly common baseline feature for livestreaming platforms to offer, so it makes sense that TikTok would add this.
To use this feature, creators can select the LIVE Events icon from the top-right corner of their profile page, then name the event, list the start time and write a brief description. Once they hit create, the LIVE event will go through a brief review process before being visible to the rest of TikTok.
After the event is scheduled, creators can share it through in-app messages, promote with a TikTok video using a LIVE countdown sticker or promote it outside of TikTok. They can also make changes or even delete the event. As they plan for their event, TikTok will show how many people have already registered to attend to better inform creators’ promotional efforts.
This feature had already become available in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, but is now testing in other global markets, the company said.
Creators can also now go live with others in order to benefit from the combined audience. Currently, the ability to go live with one other co-host is available worldwide, but TikTok is testing going live with multiple hosts in select regions. For comparison, Instagram this year launched the ability for creators to go live with up to four others in Live Rooms.
Meanwhile, TikTok’s LIVE Q&As allow audience members to ask questions during the creator’s livestreams. Creators can view these questions in their stream chat from a separate panel and have the option to show the questions to all viewers and answer them formally through the existing Q&A tools.
Another new tool allows creators to assign trusted moderators to manage their streams before a livestream starts. These moderators will have the ability to mute and block users from the chat as needed. The keyword filtering tool, which blocks words the creators don’t want to appear in their chats, has also been expanded to support up to 200 terms.
Over the next few weeks, TikTok will also introduce a way for hosts and moderators to temporarily mute viewers and remove comments.
For viewers, meanwhile, TikTok will make it easier to find LIVE videos to watch. Soon, users will be able to tune into LIVE videos directly from the For You Feed and Following pages, by tapping on the new LIVE button, which some may already have, then the “Explore” button, which launches a side panel where they can browse the various LIVE videos available now.
TikTok says the top LIVE categories to date included chat/Q&A, gaming, talents, fashion and daily life.
Viewers will also be prompted to reconsider their comments during the livestream if the system detects they’re about to post something potentially harmful or abusive. TikTok has used prompts before to flag unsubstantiated claims in videos its fact-checkers couldn’t verify and it has used a similar prompt to address potentially bullying comments.
Livestream viewers can also now use picture-in-picture mode on iOS and Android to watch LIVE videos while continuing to use their phone.
The TikTok LIVE experience became particularly popular during the pandemic. And while the company declined to share exact viewer metrics for its livestreams, it said that the number of people going live and the number of people watching LIVE videos had doubled over the last year. These videos may be helping to fuel demand for the app as well, as a recent report from Sensor Tower noted TikTok became the first non-Facebook app to reach 3 billion downloads worldwide, despite being banned in India.
The report also noted that in Q2 2021 the app saw its greatest quarter-over-quarter growth in consumer spending in a year’s time, climbing 39% to $534.6 million, up from $384.7 million in the previous quarter. This could signal increased interest in livestreams, as that’s where creators tend to generate revenue through virtual gifts.
TikTok’s LIVE platform is only open to users over the age of 16, and it regularly removes those who the system detects may be underage. (Asked about a recent purge, TikTok said it’s just enforcing its existing guidelines.) It also bans accounts that impersonate or mislead the community about their identity, it said.
All of the new features are available, in some form, to global audiences presently.