A cat playing air drums. 

Swipe up.

A dance challenge.

Swipe up.

A napping dog shamed for being too lazy #SelectivePawticipation. 

Swipe up.

Just a regular day in India’s short video kingdom, where the dust is just about settling. A year after the Chinese leader, TikTok, was banished from the country by the Indian government, there’s now a clearer picture of who are the top claimants to the bite-sized vertical video content throne. 

And unlike Ola/Uber, Zomato/Swiggy, Airtel/Jio, and Amazon/Flipkart, it’s not a duopoly. Yet. From an endless list of TikTok alternatives, the list has narrowed down to five players—Instagram Reels, Sharechat’s sister firm Moj, Dailyhunt-owned Josh, Times Group’s MX TakaTak, and InMobi Group’s Roposo. 

As an investor from the space puts it, it’s a matter of how much money you can raise for growth. Except for Reels, each of the aforementioned platforms have had funding rounds north of $100 million in the last few months. That’s not to say Reels is strapped for cash. Thanks to the financial and technological war chest of Instagram’s parent firm Facebook, resources are at the bottom of Reels’ list of concerns. 

Launched in India in July 2020, Reels is the leader in this space by a mile. While Instagram is yet to disclose any Reels-specific data on active users, the minimal data revealed revealed Mint Indians upload 6 mn short-form videos on Instagram every day Read more  by Facebook so far shows that it reigns supreme. Reels users from India are uploading nearly six million short-form videos on average every day, compared to 2.5 million per day on its nearest competitor, Moj. The latter was also launched in India in July 2020. In response to emailed queries from The Ken, a Facebook spokesperson said that the past year had seen the company focus on shaping Reels in tune with local needs. “The traction we’re seeing for it in India is incredible,” they added.

Facebook and Instagram, with an estimated 340 million and 210 million users in India respectively, have a substantial pedestal to build on. And while Facebook struck gold in India post the TikTok ban, the world’s largest social network also took a number of good calls along the way. 

Cross-selling Reels videos on the Facebook app, for instance. Users can share and view a Reels video on Facebook, but if they try to follow the account, they have to download Instagram. According to a company source, this strategy helped Instagram double its growth in tier-2 cities and beyond, where Facebook is the prime internet destination.


Munsif Vengattil

Munsif keeps a tab on what Big Tech has been up to in India and all things OTT. He was with Reuters previously, where he wrote investigative pieces on Facebook’s content moderation operations and WhatsApp’s troubles in the run-up to India’s national elections. If you want to talk to Munsif about journalism, tech policy or his love for seekh kebabs, write to him at his first name @the-ken.com.

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