More than a year after the most popular app with Shortform content (TikTok) got banned last year, Indian apps continued the momentum. Here are some of the recent trends and the growth factors which is making this sector one of the most on demand digital content segments among the users. Shortform has been reigning despite other digital content categories also making it big and is soon expected to overtake OTT Video content as well which clearly shows its popularity.

1. Shortform is set to become the 2nd largest in time spent after Internet giants

Time Spent, split by platform, In Tn Mins

Note: 1) Time spent on Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts has been included in Shortform time spent 2) Total time spent on Shortform for CY21F is ~18% of total. Indian Shortform apps ~15% whereas Global Shortform apps (e g. YT Shorts, IG Reels) take up remaining 3%

The shortform category has been a winner at an aggregate level that is the time spent by users. Notably, in a year’s time, this category will attain the second spot after Google and Facebook Ecosystem. Further, while shortform content is seeing higher engagement, overall users are spending more time on content compared to OTT and WhatsApp as well.

2. Shortform is expected to reach ~650Mn users by CY25

India Shortform MAU – Growth Forecasts In Million, CY18-CY25E

The users of the segment are expected to grow more than 2x to reach ~650 million by CY25. The growth is is expected to be driven by a number of factors-

Shortform is one of the most frictionless apps for new user adoption given it’s video format nature and little/ no limitations from literacy, financial status (unlike other digital commerce apps which require a certain level of literacy and financial status). ~40% of Smartphone users are already using Shortform apps in CY 2021. Further looking at trends in China and the frictionless nature of Shortform, we expect the user adoption to increase to ~60-75% of the smartphone user base by CY 2025.

The growth of MAU will be driven by the new 300 million Internet users that will be added by 2025. Secondly, Shortform creators (UGC) have grown ~2x (from the tik-tok days, June 2020) and now stand at 40-45 million, mostly from smaller towns and cities. The Indian shortform apps have surged ahead in terms of creator experience. Consequently, there is an increase in user base and engagement on these platforms.

3. Content creation is operating a flywheel to push through next stage of growth

Short form Creators & Influencers Funnel, CY 2021 Estimates

Currently, 20% of the users are content creators on the apps. While the unique content creator base is 40-45 million at this point, ~1.5 Mn creators are being added every month. Also, ~4 Mn posts are added per day which is 10-15% higher than that of Tiktok. It is seen that there is 60% growth in UGC video creation over the last 6 months (Jan – June 21). Growth in unique content creation, creator base and resulting rise engagement and Creator success stories is pushing the next phase of growth.

4. India’s digital ad market to become ~$10Bn by CY25, 50% share of total ad market

India Ads Market $ Bn, CY 16 – CY 25F

The digital ad market is expected to grow to ~10x in the next 10 years. The major growth drivers for this will be-

  • Increasing digital consumption – Shift in time spent
  • Rise of D2C or challenger brands
  • Digital penetration in Tier 2+ cities creating new market and opportunities

5. Shortform can potentially take 20% of the Digital Ad Pie

India is still at a nascent stage in terms of monetization on shortform apps but is showing early adoption. Digital Ad revenues structure is expected to change significantly in the coming years. There are three monetization opportunities as seen in the China market which includes- Ads revenues, live stream gifting, livestream and commerce. India has begun adopting some of these models.


  • Mohit is an expert in Strategy, Performance Enhancement, Digital Services, M&A, and Due Diligence. He has 25 years of experience in management consulting, financial services, start-ups, and digital transformation.