TikTok announced on Tuesday it has signed on as the lead sponsor of VidCon for 2021, replacing YouTube, which had been in the role and synonymous with the social media conference since 2013.
YouTube will stay involved with VidCon this year "through new and different opportunities," a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. They said the company will be announcing that "involvement shortly."
According to a press release provided by TikTok, the company said that "the deal strengthens TikTok’s commitment to the creator community, leveraging VidCon’s core audience of creators, fans, and industry partners as they gather together at the annual event, which serves as the epicenter of the digital world."
"The partnership further extends the platform’s presence since first participating at the US convention in 2019, demonstrating its incredible impact and lightning growth across the VidCon community."
TikTok boasted a new lineup of its largest creators on the app — and arguably in the influencer industry — who will appear at this year's event, including Andre Swilley, Sarah Lugor, Devon Rodriguez, Alex Warren, Michael Le, and more. Other social media stars who will be there, who now hold huge accounts on TikTok but are traditional YouTubers, include Brent Rivera, Sofie Dossi, and Alex Wassabi.
“Creators are the heart of TikTok and VidCon is an important, community-building celebration for them," said Nick Tran, the head of global marketing at TikTok. “We’ve expanded our relationship with VidCon to build upon our commitment to our creators, providing them with opportunities for learning, networking, and content collaborations at the event."
VidCon was founded in 2010 by Hank and John Green, who were successful YouTubers on their channel Vlogbrothers. The conference was then acquired by ViacomCBS in 2018. Since its early days, the largest annual congregation for digital creators had direct associations with YouTube in its branding and the lineup of creators who received top billing. This year's alignment with TikTok marks a notable shift in VidCon history and the social media industry.
When reached, a spokesperson for YouTube said the company had "thoughtfully worked through our VidCon plans months ago."
"We are excited to continue our investment in our creators and VidCon as we have done since 2013 through new and different opportunities as part of the overall program," they told BuzzFeed News. "We'll be sharing our involvement shortly."
VidCon US canceled all of its in-person events due to COVID in 2020, but the convention will return to being IRL, with virtual ticketing options, at the Anaheim Convention Center this year.