Two sellers hawk handbags on a live stream at a "TikTok Livestreaming E-commerce Base" in Wuhan, China in 2021.
Credit: VCG/VCG via Getty Images

According to The Information, TikTok is planning to launch studios in major cities where content creators can conduct shopping livestreams on the platform. This move comes after TikTok Shop was widely introduced and adopted in 2023 as part of the app’s e-commerce features.

This concept might sound familiar as similar setups have been in operation in China for some time, including one in Wuhan run by TikTok itself. You might also recall YouTube Spaces, which were urban centers where creators could access studios, equipment, postproduction tools, and training provided by YouTube for free, starting in 2012. Despite opening with great excitement in cities like Berlin, London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, São Paulo, Mumbai, and Dubai, by 2020, these Spaces encountered significant challenges.

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While these Spaces were initially used for content creation and events like premieres and award shows, they became financially unsustainable and struggled to meet the changing needs of creators. This led to the closure of seven Spaces during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, with only the São Paulo, Mumbai, and Dubai locations remaining active as of 2024.

Unlike YouTube Spaces, TikTok’s new initiative may have better prospects since live streamers using TikTok Shop require physical spaces to exhibit and store their merchandise.

However, challenges arise when considering other aspects of content creation within these facilities. The Information notes TikTok’s plan to allow brands to send product samples directly to the studio for creators to use and film with. Yet, established creators typically receive brand packages directly or through their agencies. Additionally, the financial sustainability of this venture remains uncertain, with discussions around potentially charging creators a membership fee for space usage. Questions also linger about whether creators can store their inventory overnight at these studios or if they must bring them in daily.

Addressing demand, TikTok aims to accommodate “dozens of creators a day” in these physical studios. However, this number seems small given the platform’s estimated over 1 million active creators.

A potentially troubling aspect is the thought of numerous people crowded into rooms promoting unnecessary products while our planet faces environmental challenges. The somber imagery of China’s live streaming factories serves as a stark reminder, paralleling TikTok’s decision to set up its inaugural studio in Los Angeles, a city known for its involvement in profit-driven reality manipulation.


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Elizabeth de Luna
Culture Reporter

Elizabeth is a digital culture reporter covering the internet’s influence on self-expression, fashion, and fandom. Her work explores how technology shapes our identities, communities, and emotions. Before joining Mashable, Elizabeth spent six years in tech. Her reporting can be found in Rolling Stone, The Guardian, TIME, and Teen Vogue. Follow her on Instagram here.


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