Since Instagram added stories to its app to spar with Snapchat, the feature gained massive popularity and has managed to convert many users.
Now, Instagram is ready to make a much bigger move, and it will put them head on against video-sharing platform YouTube.
Instagram announced today that it will begin allowing users to post videos up of to 60 minutes in length, instead of its previous limit of 1 minute.
At an event in San Francisco today, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said long-form videos will be introduced as an in-app feature as well as a new standalone app, IGTV, which is expected to be launched in coming weeks.
Videos Made For Mobile Viewing
Just like the Insta-stories we know so well, long-form videos will play full-screen and vertical.
Systrom said this is because IGTV is “built for how you actually use your phone”, unlike the traditional horizontal format which requires viewers to flip their phones to watch.
IGTV will have “channels” that belong to creators, including some social media celebrities like Lele Pons, who gave a preview of her IGTV cooking show at the event.
However, Instagram says that anyone will be able to create and upload content on IGTV through the new app or on the web.
“When you follow a creator on Instagram, their IGTV channel will show up for you to watch,” Systrom said in a post on Instagram.
IGTV aims for users to watch it just like TV. Users will not have to search for videos to watch as content begins playing the moment the app is opened.
With minimal navigation, users can swipe between the sections “For You”, “Following”, “Popular” and “Continue Watching”.
You Can Start Spending Hours On Instagram Right Now
Moments after hearing the news, some of my colleagues opened Instagram on their mobile phones and found that the in-app IGTV feature was already added.
Videos shown seem to be catered to the viewer’s interests based on, but not limited to accounts that they have been following on Instagram.
Viewers are able to like, comment on, and share videos as they watch.
According to Systrom, IGTV will not contain advertisements as of yet, but we probably cannot expect this to last forever.
In the future, Instagram plans to offer a way to monetise for creators who are investing their time into producing videos.
Will Vertical Long-Form Hit It Off?
Instagram’s announcement begs the question of whether this new format of mobile-first video content will last.
When it comes to watching long videos, viewers have been used to horizontal formats like YouTube’s videos, which are suited to display full-screen on desktop.
Still, media consumption has always been evolving. Instagram says that mobile video will account for 78% of total mobile data traffic by 2021.
Since people use mobile heavily, perhaps IGTV could end up winning viewers over from YouTube.
But while the convenience of watching full-screen vertically could be a hit, viewers may not be as pleased about burning their data to load hour-long videos.
As for content producers, the launch of IGTV beckons all to keep up and adapt to new formats. If viewers and communities migrate, creators sticking to desktop-first video only stand to miss opportunities.
What do you think, will you be watching IGTV?