TikTok is exploring a new way to make money: The popular video app has kicked off a limited-scale test of a monthly subscription service that eliminates ads. However, contrary to an earlier report, the company says it is not currently available in the U.S.
According to a report Monday by Android Authority, code in a new version of the TikTok app showed a new ad-free subscription tier, which was supposedly priced at “$4.99 per month in the USA during this testing phase.” Reached for comment, a TikTok spokesperson confirmed that the company has launched a limited-scale test of a subscription plan without ads in one market, but that is outside the U.S. The rep declined to identify where the test is currently running or how much it costs.
Note that the code surfaced by Android Authority indicates, “Price includes VAT,” or value-added tax — and the U.S. does not employ a VAT on goods or services.
For now, TikTok’s subscription plan is just a single-market test, and the company may not move forward with the offering more widely, according to the spokesperson. TikTok, which says it has more than 1 billion monthly users (including more than 150 in the U.S.), largely relies on advertising revenue while it also has launched shopping features in the app. TikTok is owned by China’s ByteDance, and its Chinese ownership has spawned political opposition to the app in the U.S. and beyond.
Other apps have adopted ad-free subscription models, including Snap, which last month said Snapchat+, the $4/month subscription service that includes experimental and prerelease features, had topped 5 million customers a little more than a year after its launch.
Elon Musk has said he wants to intro a new premium version of X (aka Twitter) that would eliminate all ads, but so far that hasn’t come to pass. Currently, the perks of X Premium, starting at $8/month, include the verified blue check mark and “approximately 50% fewer ads in the For You and Following timelines,” according to the company.
From Variety US