Soon, you might be able to watch TikTok ad-free. Mostly. And for a price.
As first reported by Android Authority, code within the TikTok app indicates that TikTok might begin to test an ad-free subscription tier for users. The site reported that for $4.99, subscribers could get an ad-free experience on TikTok — no other major strings attached, from the looks of it.
TikTok confirmed to TechCrunch it’s testing this product but only in a single, English-speaking market outside the U.S. It disputed the Android Authority report that said it was coming to the U.S. as small-scale tests don’t indicate a product launch is inevitable.
Based on the blog’s findings, however, the subscription appears to only cover ads served by TikTok — not influencer marketing one-offs or campaigns. So it won’t do much to combat the raft of TikTok users failing to disclose their brand sponsorships, which include big-name influencers like Charli D’Amelio.
TikTok makes most of its money from ads, and so far, it’s proven resilient to the broader slowdown in online ad spending.
A recent report from market research firm Cowen found a TikTok embrace even amid more cautious ad buyers, with 60% naming TikTok as their preferred short-form video venue. Standard Media Index reported that, as of November, TikTok parent startup ByteDance’s share of big agency spending on social media reached to 11%, with companies including Pepsi, DoorDash, Amazon and Apple among the top spenders.
The question is whether an ad-free tier can meaningfully replace any of that revenue. Evidently, TikTok’s willing to give it a go — following in the footsteps of social media rivals X (the platform formerly known as Twitter) and YouTube.
Updated 10/2/23, 3:12 PM ET: Updated with TikTok comment.