Instagram is opening its doors to long-form video, making it possible for all users to upload hour-long video content that will live within the app on its new IGTV platform and a newly launched IGTV standalone app.
The Facebook-owned company announced IGTV during an event in San Francisco on Wednesday, also sharing the news that the social media site has reached 1 billion users.
“I have some really big news — the big news is that we are now a global community of a billion monthly actives on Instagram,” said Instagram CEO Kevin Kevin Systrom at the start of the IGTV event. From there the CEO launched into details around Instagram’s new IGTV platform, offering up a variety of stats around video consumption on the platform.
“On Instagram, people are watching 60 percent more video than they did just last year,” said Systrom.” An entirely new category of video now exists, and it’s being made by creators. Teens may be watching less TV, but they’re watching more creators online.”
Systrom remarked on the combined reach of creators reaching hundreds of millions of followers.
“That makes Instagram one of the largest and most engaged audiences anywhere in the world,” said Systrom, making a clear pitch that it aims to be a formidable competitor to YouTube.
The IGTV video content is optimized to fit how users watch video on their phones — with full-screen vertical videos. Content will start playing as soon as a user clicks on the TV-shaped icon within Instagram or opens the IGTV app.
From the Instagram announcement on its press blog:
You don’t have to search to start watching content from people you already follow on Instagram and others you might like based on your interests. You can swipe up to discover more — switch between “For You,” “Following,” “Popular” and “Continue Watching.” You can also like, comment and send videos to friends in Direct.
There are no ads on IGTV right now, but the CEO did say that the video platform was “obviously” a reasonable place to offer advertising options, according to a TechCrunch report. Some advertisers are already reporting they are shifting their Facebook ad dollars to Instagram because of Facebook’s rising ad costs. The launch of IGTV offers the potential for an entirely new platform for Instagram ads — something that only sparks more interest in Instagram from advertisers wanting more affordable ad options. Instagram will also look to ways for creators to monetize their content — an effort Facebook has been focused on for a while now.
Creators uploading hour-long videos will have their own channel where their long-form video content will live. As part of the launch, Instagram listed a few of its top influencers who have already started adding videos to their IGTV channels, including Lele Pons, Selena Gomez, Kim Kardashian West and Kevin Hart.
Aaron Brooks, the co-founder and CEO of Vamp, an influencer marketing platform, believes influencers will likely take full advantage of Instagram’s new platform — and may choose Instagram over YouTube.
“The launch of IGTV is really exciting because it now means that Instagram covers all the bases. Influencers will be able to post photos and videos to their feed, make Stories that last for 24 hours, stream live videos and make these new 60 minute TV shows,” says Brooks. “It also means that influencers will no longer need to redirect their audiences to YouTube, they will be able to post all of their content in one place. I imagine that if an influencer has been considering starting a YouTube channel, this update might persuade them otherwise.”
The IGTV platform within Instagram and standalone app began rolling out globally yesterday on Android and iOS, and, according to Instagram, should be available to all users over the next few weeks.