Recently Instagram cleared the air regarding rumors and reports that the Facebook-owned social network was looking to get more heavily involved in video content. On Wednesday, June 20, Instagram officially launched the previously rumored IGTV, a spot for vertical videos up to one hour in length with Story-like fullscreen swipe controls. The new video-focused platform that Instagram co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom calls “our most exciting feature to date” is both a separate app and accessible inside Instagram.
Rather than working as a YouTube or Facebook Watch clone, IGTV feels more like a mix between Stories and the more traditional online video platforms because of both the user interface and the fact that IGTV is a mobile-first platform. That smartphone focus means IGTV uses the vertical videos that don’t require rotating the device for a full-screen view.
While the full-screen design and gestures feel more like watching Stories, IGTV borrows a few more expected features from YouTube. The platform is divided into channels, with one channel for each user. IGTV has a one-hour time limit, a big jump from Instagram’s one-minute cap on videos shared inside the feed. The videos also have the same Like, comment, and direct shortcuts as content in the Instagram feed.
IGTV is going to be perfect for creators with thousands or millions of followers. Especially since Instagram has an audience of 1 billion monthly active users. Anyone with an account can upload videos up to an hour long. Instagram said that the hour-long limit is only for the launch since it plans to eventually let people upload content without restraint.
IGTV will be a separate Instagram app, but the long-form videos will also be integrated into Instagram itself. In addition to being a standalone app, IGTV content will also appear in the main Instagram app. It’s not known whether this cross-app integration will stay! As it seems, it more or less to be an effort to get Instagram users onboard with the new app. Whatever the case, for the time being, you should be able to catch the latest content from the people you follow right within the Instagram app.
When you download and log in to IGTV, you shouldn’t have to spend much time going out there and finding content from the get-go. Once you’ve logged into IGTV, any content creators you follow on Instagram will already be a part of your video content on IGTV. Akin to YouTube, IGTV calls each creator’s page a ‘channel,’ although the call to action remains ‘follow,’ unlike ‘subscribe’ on YouTube.
To keep things familiar, IGTV makes it easy to keep tabs on your favorite creators and find new ones. As with the Instagram app, IGTV will feature a ‘For You’, ‘Following’ and ‘Popular’ tab for navigation. There’s also a new ‘Continue Watching’ section for revisiting old videos you didn’t finish. You can also like, comment and share videos with friends via Instagram’s direct messaging system.
Instagram isn’t going in blind on its new platform, either. The app reaches more than 800 million monthly users and 500 million daily users. A ‘follow’ on Instagram is an automatic ‘follow’ on IGTV. However, the company has yet to disclose how it plans to help creators monetize their content.
What’s more, you can’t use the IGTV app to film and upload videos to the platform. You have to film your videos first, then upload them to IGTV. In the IGTV app, you cannot just search for the videos like in YouTube. You can only search the channels in order to watch their videos. Like for an example, if I wish to watch a review of any mobile phone, I will need to type-in channel name of the particular reviewer.
Then, of course, if you add in the vertical aspect of the videos, you’re faced with a whole new set of challenges. Not only from a technical aspect, but this will also impact the kind of content you might see on IGTV too.
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