On Wednesday 20th June at a flashy event in San Francisco, Instagram announced the launch of a new video app allowing users to upload and stream videos of up to an hour. This is a significant change for the social media platform that created its niche as a photo sharing app.
Available on iOS and Android, IGTV will be a hub within the existing Instagram app, as well as a new dedicated app allowing users to watch IGTV videos.
The eight-year-old social media platform is also allowing users to create their own channels. Previously, Instagram limited uploaded videos to 60 seconds, capped stories at 15 seconds and live-streams limited to one hour.
In an attempt to lure younger viewers away from YouTube, some say they’re mimicking the Google owned company. Saying that though, Facebook and Instagram also copied features of Snapchat – another magnet for teenagers and young adults.
Kevin Systom, Instagram CEO said the app was designed to make it easier to find and watch videos on the mobile. He noted that most video apps require you to search or browse through a directory – as opposed to TV. IGTV, on the other hand, will simply start playing the video the moment you open it.
IGTV will eventually give Facebook – Instagram’s parent company – more opportunities to sell advertising.
With 1 billion users on Instagram, IGTV could grow extremely quickly, with creators not only trying to earn money but also grow their audience. Instagram is expected to build out a monetisation option for IGTV creators, potentially including advertising revenue shares. Facebook shareholders loved the sound of a more premium ad inventory that businesses crave as they shift spend away from TV.
Instagram has evolved far beyond the initial simplicity of just filtering and sharing photos. When it launched in 2010, mobile networks, screens and cameras weren’t ready for longer-form video – and neither were users.
As more teenagers and young adults ignore television, Instagram saw an opportunity to become the TV of mobile. YouTube may always have a wider breadth of content, but through curation of creators and publishers’ video content on Instagram could become the reliable place to watch something great on a small screen.
Or could it mean that it is losing its way? Perhaps Instagram’s 1 billion active users will be the only ones to decide that.