Instagram’s IGTV wants to make vertical video cool again

instagram igtv kevin systrom

It’s not enough to be a social network in 2018 without being an advertising mill too. For Instagram, it’s not enough to be an image-only social network and not dally in video.

We’ve seen the company’s obsession with video begin with the launch of Instagram Stories’ in August 2016, and it alone has amassed more than 300-million users since. Instagram itself now has more than a billion users.

On Wednesday CEO Kevin Systrom announced a new long-form video platform specifically crafted for those billion smartphone users and their smartphone screens. It’s called IGTV, and is ostensibly a mashup of Instagram Stories and YouTube.

There are a few notable differences between the three though.

Unlike Stories’ fleeting 60 second clips, IGTV’s video length is limited to 3600 seconds. Additionally, it will also privilege vertical video, making it better suited for viewing — and creating — using a smartphone. (Good luck finding vertical content on YouTube.)

Systrom envisions the service as a television on the mobile, as annoying as he makes it seem.

“Just like turning on the TV, IGTV starts playing as soon as you open the app,” he adds.

This is Instagram's IGTV
left right

Instagram Igtv Kevin Systrom

Instagram Igtv Channel Profile

The layout of an IGTV creator's profile page, or channel.

Instagram Igtv Entry

Here's how users can access IGTV through Instagram and vice versa.

Instagram Igtv Watch

IGTV's video player layout.

“You don’t have to search to start watching content from people you already follow on Instagram and others you might like based on your interests.”

And furthermore like television — and YouTube — Instagram’s TV offering also has “channels” which are effectively the creators’ portals.

“When you follow a creator on Instagram, their IGTV channel will show up for you to watch. Anyone can be a creator — you can upload your own IGTV videos in the app or on the web to start your own channel,” Systrom clarified.

Systrom resisted talking advertising on IGTV at the launch, but you could bet the company will not make IGTV an ad-free portal. It’s also not yet clear if content creators can earn a profit from their content, akin to YouTube. All this will likely be revealed as the service rolls out “over the next few weeks” on Android and iOS.

Feature image: Instagram

Andy Walker
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