Ever since its inception, Instagram has evolved immensely from just being a platform for photo sharing with filters. It smoothly transitioned into a platform for video creators as well with one-minute video uploads and Instagram Stories. Today, Instagram is looking to grasp the opportunity of being the T.V of mobile. It wants to be a reliable place for video content creators to create something amazing for the small screen, now that it is a global community of one billion people.
On June 20th, 2018 at a grand event in San Francisco, Instagram announced a yet another leap in the world of online video space. It will now allow users to upload one-hour long video content, up from the previous one-minute limit through its new feature IGTV that is a standalone app as well as a separate tab within the Instagram app.
How Does IGTV Work?
With IGTV anyone can be a creator, not just celebrities. IGTV is meant for fullscreen vertical videos only, taking this trend a step further than just Stories. There are two ways to access IGTV – either you download it’s standalone app or just access this feature with a separate tab that is denoted by an IGTV icon at the top of the homepage of the Instagram app. IGTV wants you to use this as a small screen Television since it focuses on the ‘lean back’ mode of viewing content, unlike most other video platforms which require you to search or browse.
The standalone app eliminates all distraction and would show you its content as soon as you open it, just like how Television works. Currently, it only caters to pre-recorded content and live videos may be integrated in future.
For people with smaller Instagram accounts, the IGTV video upload is restricted to ten minutes and for the larger ones, it is up to one hour long. It may further extend to unlimited length in the future. The IGTV app is available for download worldwide on iOS and Android.
It’s been five years since the launch of video on Instagram. But who knew that it would be such a great success that now there is a separate app from Instagram dedicated just for that. It is estimated that by 2021 mobile video will account for 78% of total mobile data traffic. And IGTV is here to make the best use of that potential when it comes to vertical video. Here are some of the features that are bound to make it a success:
- It works on the swipe through format for browsing content, just like the Stories feature.
- When you swipe up, you will find more browsing options with personally recommended videos, popular videos, creators you are already following and the option to continue watching previously started videos.
- The IGTV button on the Instagram app will also give users callouts to alert them about the new content that is being posted.
- It allows users to create dedicated Instagram Channels on IGTV where all their videos will be showcased and users can subscribe to it.
- Creators will now have the ability to post links in the description section of their videos which will drive traffic elsewhere. Something which is not available on Instagram posts.
- Just like all other video platforms, IGTV also lets you engage with the content by liking, commenting and sharing with friends on Direct. These videos can also be shared to Facebook profiles and pages.
- IGTV content has a scrub bar on videos which means you don’t just have to start every video at the beginning and wait for it to loop if you miss the part you wanted to see (which is how Instagram videos currently work).
- The Instagram features like filters and stickers are well integrated into IGTV for the creators to use in their video content.
IGTV vs YouTube
The launch of IGTV is obviously Instagram’s big step towards rivaling YouTube. YouTube has been the default destination for most people to consume video content which has the benefits of having a sophisticated algorithm and being home to a wide range of creators with the sustainable functionality of being able to earn money.
Instagram, unlike YouTube, is an app which doesn’t function as a true video platform but instead has a video tab which is used for quickly browsing through via thumbing. With the standalone IGTV app, Instagram is trying to slow down users from thumbing and consider it as a serious video-centric platform where creators can grow their audience base.
YouTube has been prone to content manipulations with misleading titles and thumbnails due to its style of browsing. IGTV will not have that issue because it functions on the ‘lean on’ T.V mode which doesn’t leave any scope for such manipulations. Since the digital audience is almost always exposed to landscape content, vertical videos for long-form content might take a while in getting used to.
Since IGTV’s objective is to bring the audience and creators closer, it will need to make it sustainable for creators to stay and use the platform, just like YouTube does with their revenue model. Today IGTV does not have advertisements on it but soon is bound to offer creators a way to monetize their videos.
The viewing experience for both the platforms is what makes the difference. While YouTube has both a personal and social viewing experience with desktop, mobile and cast videos on T.V, IGTV may struggle a bit with disrupting the traditional horizontal viewing habits of the digital audience.
Another struggle for IGTV could be moderation of its long-form content. Identifying a photo that violates the community guidelines is pretty quick but that won’t be the case with long-form videos. YouTube has earlier shown concerns for not being able to effectively moderate longer videos.
What Does It Mean For Facebook Watch?
Facebook Watch is a similar property of Facebook that caters to video content and a community around that. To kickstart this property, Facebook made deals with content creators to start using it and making it popular. Facebook said that creators of the program will be able to earn money from their videos via Ad Breaks and get support connecting their content to larger audiences.
But Instagram hasn’t made any such move with the launch of IGTV. Currently, IGTV is only focusing on engagement and getting the attention of creators by experimenting with it.
Facebook being the parent company for both Facebook Watch and IGTV, these platforms remain separate as standalone properties for Facebook and Instagram respectively. For Facebook Watch, new tools include options for ad breaks, a potential new subscription option that is being tested, and a service called Brand Collabs Manager which helps connect stars with brand partnerships.
It would be interesting to see how IGTV goes about making the platform more sustainable when it gets more popular. For both these platforms, the bigger challenge would lie in keeping the creators on their platform rather than just attracting them.
I love to explore challenging opportunities in the field of Digital Media. Primarily, my skills revolve around Digital Video in terms of Content Strategy/Marketing, Analysis and Audience Development. My natural affinity towards diverse audio-visual content across platforms helps me develop a multitude of perspectives. In totality - I'm a keen learner, collector of new enriching experiences and have an undying conviction to always stay curious in life!