TikTok Reportedly Faces Stalling U.S. User Growth ‘For the First Time’ Amid UMG Dispute and Forced-Sale Speculation

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TikTok is reportedly grappling with a stateside usership plateau. Photo Credit: Rubaitul Azad

Amid a high-stakes licensing impasse with Universal Music Group (UMG) – besides stiff competition and the threat of a stateside ban – TikTok’s U.S. user growth is reportedly stagnating “for the first time.”

The less-than-ideal usership development emerged in a new report from the Wall Street Journal, after the UMG-TikTok disagreement became public in late January. While the resulting song removals and mass-muting are still eliciting complaints from users, the multifaceted episode has as of late been largely overshadowed by TikTok’s possible domestic ban.

And it’s against this backdrop that TikTok is reportedly grappling with user-volume obstacles in the States. Per the Journal, which cites anonymous individuals with knowledge of the matter, TikTok’s “total number of American users has stalled” for the first time since launch.

It’s unclear whether that point is the direct result of UMG’s exit. As mentioned, competitors including Shorts and Reels have for some time been making waves on the download and user fronts.

However, also worth bearing in mind is that in February of 2023, during evidently rocky licensing talks with the majors, TikTok limited the amount of music that certain Australia-based users could add to videos. Throughout the experiment, TikTok users (and user hours) reportedly dipped in the island nation.

Beyond this idea, it’s possible that TikTok’s reported stateside slowdown could be attributable (at least in part) to oversaturation. The video-sharing giant reportedly boasts an astonishing 170 million users in the U.S. – meaning that even a small decline in interest might cause the userbase expansion to stall.

Expanding on the latter, Data.ai stats reportedly show that TikTok’s U.S. monthly active users between the ages of 18 and 24 declined by close to nine percent across 2022 and 2023. Of course, the ByteDance subsidiary has long been known for its particular reach when it comes to children and young adults.

As it stands, even if the reported U.S. usership plateau isn’t indicative of a long-term trend, the development represents another obstacle for TikTok and ByteDance during a particularly difficult time. Following an overwhelming House vote in favor of a bill that would compel ByteDance to sell or shut down TikTok in the States, the Senate is considering the measure.

Should the bill pass in that chamber, the president has signaled that he would sign the measure into law. Expectedly, reports have suggested that TikTok would then levy a legal challenge, with others having expressed the belief that multiple factors may prevent a sale from going through.

But in the event that a sale is, in fact, on the table, TikTok’s domestic popularity will for obvious reasons prove significant from a valuation perspective.