Could TikTok Get Banned?

Lawmakers turn up the heat on ByteDance

Good morning. Platforms (maybe) getting banned, creators getting sued, longtime CEOs stepping down—we’re ready for a St. Paddy’s Day green beer after covering this week in creator news. Guess they call it March Madness for a reason.

U.S. Government Demands ByteDance Sell TikTok

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew / TikTok

On Wednesday, the Biden administration reportedly called for TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to sell the app in light of perceived security threats over ByteDance’s Chinese ownership. If ByteDance does not sell TikTok, it could risk a national ban on the app.

This request suggests that, despite ByteDance’s efforts to dissuade them, U.S. lawmakers have not softened their harsh criticisms of TikTok. For a complete timeline of ByteDance, TikTok, and U.S. lawmakers’ complicated relationship with the two, check out our research here.

FYI: TikTok has been banned on multiple college campuses in the U.S. in recent months. Both the U.K. and U.S. have banned the app from government devices, and India and Pakistan have banned TikTok outright.

Why is ByteDance seen as a threat? The FBI has alleged that the Chinese government could potentially use TikTok to influence American users or control their devices.

  • Buzzfeed News reported in June that China-based ByteDance employees have repeatedly accessed non-public data (like phone numbers and birthdays) from U.S. TikTok users.

  • Forbes reported in October that ByteDance planned to use TikTok "to monitor the personal location of some specific American citizens," which the app denied.

Big picture: It’s possible ByteDance will sell TikTok, but the complications and cost of brokering such a deal are significant for ByteDance. Which makes us wonder…what would a potential U.S. TikTok ban mean for the creator industry?

  • For creators: TikTok has nearly 100 million monthly active users in the U.S. and has introduced tons of cottage industries—TikTok managers, agents, graphic designers, video editors, etc.—who might be out of a job if TikTok were banned.

  • For brands: They’d lose a valuable ad medium. According to Fortune, for every $1 million that brands spent on influencer marketing on TikTok in 2021, they saw $7.2 million in sales over the first 90 days.

What’s next? TikTok’s CEO is testifying before Congress later this month, and he’ll likely face questions about the $1.5 billion TikTok says it’s spent to safeguard American users' data.

Tell us: What would your creator experience look like if TikTok were banned in the U.S.? Hit reply, tell us more, and we’ll share Press readers’ POVs next week.

Is Pat McAfee the Future of Sports Talk Shows?

Pat McAfee / YouTube

The sports creator’s latest scoop suggests it’s possible. On Wednesday, The Pat McAfee Show welcomed on longtime Green Bay Packer Aaron Rodgers, who announced his highly anticipated next move in the NFL…

…And the YouTube show drew in north of 485,000 live viewers, eclipsing ESPN’s NFL Live viewership in the week leading up to last month’s Super Bowl by over 100k.

Wednesday’s episode, by the numbers…

  • $1 million  The total amount earned in “social value,” according to sports analytics tool Zoomph.

  • 3 hours  The full length of the episode, which had over 1.5 million views 24 hours after going live.

What’s McAfee’s story? He’s had quite the journey from star punter to (in his words) “Internet businessman”…

  • Walked away from a $6 million contract with the Indianapolis Colts to join Barstool Sports as a contributor in 2017

  • Became a mainstay across the company’s shows and social media accounts before departing in 2018

  • Went independent and began live-streaming The Pat McAfee Show on YouTube five days a week the same year

Like other athletes-turned-creators (see also: JJ Redick and Richard Jefferson), McAfee has leveraged his relationships with his old coworkers to compete with traditional outlets like ESPN for scoops.

Big picture: ESPN has been around since 1979 and still dominates sports event coverage. But in between those events, McAfee and other sports creators are testing ESPN’s legacy reputation by 1) pulling big names and 2) reaching the audience where it is with what it wants.

Alison Roman Leverages YouTube in Cookbook Rollout

Alison Roman / YouTube

The chef is no stranger to viral trends (surely Instagram and Twitter have told you to try her chocolate shortbread cookies or chickpea stew by now).

Ahead of the April release of her latest cookbook, Sweet Enough, Roman is cultivating a YouTube-first promotional strategy with videos that act as a companion to the cookbook: a shop-with-me guide, desserts you can make without a recipe, and musings on what she does and doesn’t like about baking.

Big picture: To stand out in a competitive creator niche, Roman is blurring the lines between on-brand YouTube content and promotional bits in a unique way.

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The content we’re looking forward to reading, watching, and listening to this weekend.

  • Americans have never had more access to social technology, yet they say they are as lonely (if not lonelier) than any time on record. On a recent episode of Plain English, host Derek Thompson brings on the directors of the longest-running study on happiness in U.S. history to discuss the secrets to leading a fulfilling life.

  • All those hustle bros touting how to generate passive income in your sleep? Vox reporter Rebecca Jennings mines for truth under their smoke and mirrors.

  • What can creators (or anyone running a business) learn from Taylor Swift? Quite a lot, especially about audience building, branding, and community. Rex Woodbury explains in his newsletter, Digital Native.

  • And one bonus from our friends at Smooth Media: why every YouTube creator should have a newsletter.

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