At a glitzy event in San Francisco, the Facebook-owned app confirmed the launch of IGTV – which features significantly longer video content which will be displayed in a vertical format.
“It’s time for video to move forward, and evolve” said Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom. “IGTV is for watching long-from videos from your favorite creators.”
IGTV isn’t a separate product and is accessible from within the Instagram homescreen, but will also be available as a standalone app.
The development is a clear effort to tap into YouTube’s share of ad revenues – which is projected to hit $3.96 billion this year, up from $2.24 billion in 2015. User-generated content has become big business, and Instagram clearly wants to get in on the action.
“We’re evolving with the times; these days, people are watching less TV and more digital video,” the company said in a statement. “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.”
Whereas YouTube mobile is designed to be viewed in landscape, Instagram is going ‘mobile first’ by designing IGTV for ‘how you actually use your phone’.
Videos will also start playing as soon as users open the app. In a nod to YouTube, Instagram says users won’t ‘have to search or browse to get started’.
Creators will be able to develop channels made up of their video content that people can subscribe to – just like a certain other popular video platform.
Systrom confirmed IGTV will be ad-free for now, but did admit that it’s “a very reasonable place for them to end up”.
You can bet your house on that happening sooner rather than later.