Instagram is making a major video play: Today, the Facebook-owned app announced it is launching IGTV, a new video network on your phone. In other words, this is Instagram's take on YouTube.
There will be two ways to access IGTV: You can update your app today to start watching through Instagram, or you can watch via a separate, standalone app that will roll out in the coming weeks. In the Instagram app, you'll see a colourful new TV logo in the upper right-hand corner to the left of the Direct icon.
When you open IGTV, video will immediately begin playing. You'll see content from users and brands you're already following (a handful, including LaurDIY and King Bach, have already uploaded videos), as well as others Instagram's algorithm thinks you might like based on your activity on the app. There will be four tabs you can swipe through: "For You", "Following", "Popular", and "Continue Watching".
On IGTV each creator has a channel, similar to YouTube. And for users who have a channel there, you'll be able to access it from their Instagram profile, too.
The difference between the 60-second videos on your feed and those on IGTV is the length. IGTV will support full-screen, vertically-oriented videos up to an hour long. (The Wall Street Journal first reported on rumours about the news earlier this month.)
Instagram's business blog lays out its reasons for the major investment in video: "People are watching less TV and more digital video. By 2021, mobile video will account for 78% of total mobile data traffic. And we've learned that younger audiences are spending more time with amateur content creators and less time with professionals."
The race for streaming supremacy is certainly heating up. The desire to attract existing creators and help new ones find their voice is one that has been steadily increasing in Silicon Valley. Over the past 12 months, Snapchat, YouTube, and Facebook have each launched new suites of tools meant to woo creators. It was only inevitable that Instagram would want to get in on the content push.
Today's news leaves us with many lingering questions, though. Will creators post new material to YouTube and IGTV? Or treat them as separate platforms with unique audiences? And what about Instagram Stories? Will it fall by the wayside as more people spend time on IGTV? There's also a more serious issue: How will Instagram handle the inevitable need for increased moderation?
These are all questions the app will have to answer. For now, we're updating and watching the Instagram tube.