Amid TikTok ban, Instagram’s Reels, Sharechat’ Moj gain popularity

Experts suggest anti-China sentiments could create opportunities for India and US-based companies even as leading firms in social networking space venture into the short-video segment to cash in on the opportunity

India has cited activities 'prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, and public order' to restrict the Chinese apps. Photo: iStock

In the wake of India’s ban on popular Chinese entertainment app TikTok among 58 others citing privacy concerns, a host of apps both Indian and US, now look to cash in on the video content void in the online space.

Earlier this week, Instagram, owned by US tech giant Facebook, introduced Reels. The development comes even as Facebook looks to shut its TikTok clone Lasso that was launched in 2018 in select markets. Lasso failed to make a dent in the video segment with the rise of TikTok.

Much on the lines of TikTok, Instagram’s Reels allows users to create 15-second videos and offers a bunch of editing tools to make the videos more attractive and entertaining.


In the meantime, the multilingual Indian social networking app Sharechat, with 150 million users, launched the short-video app Moj to target the TikTok user base.

Sharechat is backed by both Chinese and US investors. It counts Shunwei Capital, Morningside Ventures and Xiaomi (all Chinese) and Twitter (US) as its investors. The company plans to raise $ 200 million for expansion in the backdrop of the TikTok ban in India.

Related news: TikTok ban leaves ‘stars’ jobless, scout for fame in new apps

In a tweet on July 7, Ankush Sachdeva, co-founder and CEO of Sharechat, said the app was coded in 30 hours. Moj already witnessed 26 million downloads in a span of 12 days and emerged as the leading app on the Google Play Store.

Sharechat is a competitor of Helo, another social media platform owned by TikTok’s parent company, Bytedance. Helo too was banned by the Indian government. In 2018, Sharechat had sued Helo in the Delhi High Court over a copyright violation, post which the Chinese platform changed its design and look.

With experts suggesting that anti-China sentiments could create opportunities for India and US-based companies, all the leading firms in the social networking space are venturing into the short-video segment to cash in on the opportunity.

Indian video-sharing apps like Mitron, Roposo, and Chingari have also reported an increase in user base after the ban imposed on Chinese apps.

Following the investment of ₹43,574 crore in Reliance Jio for a 9.9 per cent stake, Facebook also signed a global licensing deal with Saregama, the music label in India in June this year. The deal allows Facebook to license music for videos on its platform, including on Instagram. The share price of Saregama on BSE increased by 50 per cent ever since.

The US tech giant also entered into an agreement with Yash Raj Films, Zee Music Company and T-Series among others. This would allow its user base to use music content on Reel without any legal hassle.

The Facebook-Saregama deal also comes in the backdrop of a body representing thousands of music publishing companies, including Universal, threatening to sue TikTok for copyright infringement.

Related news: 59 Chinese apps including TikTok, UC Browser banned by India

TikTok influencers and users are now moving to gain popularity on these newer avenues. Take for instance, Ramneet Singh from Delhi, a popular TikToker who had 8 million views, posted three videos on Reels in the past three days and has already garnered 67,000 views in all. Many are simply uploading their TikTok content on Reels and Moj.

A digital marketing professional, who onboarded people on TikTok and promoted them on social platforms for a cost, now onboards those users emerging Indian short-video platforms.

“We will help TikTok star migrate from one platform to another and help them gain popularity for a cost,” Washib Khan of Grynow, a Gurgaon-based influencer marketing agency founder says.


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