Instagram is making a play for YouTube’s video throne with the launch of IGTV, a new app where users can upload videos longer than one minute.
Instagram has been rumoured to be getting into long-form video for a while – and yesterday the company made those plans official with the reveal of IGTV, its new standalone video app geared toward web creators, and youtube sensations. IG co-founder Kevin System said that “the hour-long limit is only for the launch of the app”, since it the company plans to eventually let people upload video content without restraint.
IGTV is all about the 1080×1920 specs of vertical videos, and although it has its own app (is case you didn’t know), you can get the full experience within the main Instagram application. Inside the IG interface, you can now see an icon that takes you into the full vertical video experience – again, despite the fact Instagram developed a dedicated IGTV app for videos, anyone who doesn’t want to download it can still watch them from the main Instagram app — through a button at the top of the app allowing the end-consumer to access IGTV content. This basically means you can use the IGTV service without either alienating an IG-centric audience or being alienated yourself. Videos can be accessed from your profile too via a button next to Stories Highlights.
There is absolutely no doubt that Instagram wants to be TV for young people. That much was clear during an elaborated press event Wednesday in San Francisco – however the company has failed to specify having a revenue stream system to remunerate its creators!
That’s right… YouTube gets tormented about how much it pays its content partners, but at least it does pay them — generally via a revenue share — and that’s why it has such a strong hold on today’s “creators.” Vine never paid creators, so they left, and Vine folded. Facebook wants people to make videos for its platform, but — weirdly — has yet to build out a system that will pay people consistently for their work.
There are some obvious ways IGTV could try to make this work. The most likely is that Instagram will put mid-roll or pre-roll video ads inside these long-form videos and split the revenue with creators, the same strategy it’s using for Facebook’s new video section, Watch. It could also roll out a subscription offering, something it recently started to test on Facebook, or it could even pay creators outright for some of their work. (Facebook has paid publishers directly before, but has also made clear the longterm plan is a revenue split, not licensing deals.)
If Instagram’s trying to take a chunk out of YouTube’s near-monopoly on video, it’s starting from a strong place. Instagram has a dedicated audience, quite a few of them Millenials, of 1 billion monthly active users — A recent Pew study found the number of Gen Y who used Instagram was almost as high as those who used YouTube (72 and 85 percent, respectively). The same study found that 95 percent of them have access to a smartphone, and 45 percent are online “almost constantly,”!
Now… How will brand content evolve on IGTV? Will we all have to start producing, high-quality TV-like experiences for Instagram?
If you have the time, budgets and skillsets to put together this type of content, then yes, it might be a great play for your personal brand and/or business.
But as video content gets longer, production values and time investment increase. And whilst creating a bunch of engaging, sub-10-second videos for a story on Instagram is a science in itself, creating a 15-minute video is a completely different challenge.
Success on IGTV will be more akin to creating and growing a YouTube channel than an Instagram profile and we’ll see plenty of experimentation from brands and creators alike to see what works on this new platform.