TikTok could prove complicated for Hollywood

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The Future. TikTok is all the rage, so it’s no surprise that Hollywood wants to harness its influence… and its young user base. While turning to the platform to distribute premium titles may prove difficult (or, simply, a money-loser), TikTok’s rise as a marketing hub has already proven invaluable. And maybe that’s the only thing it should continue to be — a small screen to drive people to the big screen.

Big dreams, small screen
Hollywood would really like to figure out if TikTok can be a new distribution platform for top-shelf film and TV.

  • The studios and streamers have already been experimenting, with Paramount briefly putting up Mean Girls in 23 parts and Peacock making the first episode of Killing It available on the platform.
  • And while some independent creators have released scripted series on the platform, Adam McKay’s nonprofit Yellow Dot Studios became the first with A-list talent to drop one — the office comedy Cobell Energy.
  • So far, Cobell Energy hasn’t sparked, with the pilot garnering only 14,400 views as of Monday and the show’s account counting only 650 followers — metrics that don’t really lead to monetization (which aren’t that high to begin with).

And that’s kind of the point — monetization (ad revenue, especially) on TikTok is really only possible if an account is already popular, which may make generating revenue on the platform harder than the already-hard streaming wars.

And even though users are pirating movies and shows on the platform, that’s after they’ve already been eventized in theaters or other legit channels — the TikTok-ization of Hollywood projects may just be people getting caught up in the endless scroll. The same happened with YouTube last decade.

While the experimentation likely won’t end soon, it’s important to reflect on the last time Hollywood rushed into premium, mobile-first content: the short-form, short-lived Quibi.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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