Instagram today announced IGTV, a standalone app for watching long-form vertical video that will also have a tab inside the flagship app. When you log in to IGTV, it will automatically begin playing vertical videos from people you follow, along with personalized recommendations from elsewhere in Instagram. The app is now available on iOS and Android.
Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said the app was designed to make it easier to find and watch videos on the mobile phone. He noted that most video apps require you to search or browse through a directory — as opposed to television, where you simply turn it on and start watching. IGTV, on the other hand, will simply start playing video the moment you open it. Among other things, this “lean back” mode could make IGTV a powerful new place for Instagram to put ads.
IGTV will also allow creators to upload video directly to Instagram, a product manager said, representing an effort to turn the app into a home for mobile video to rival YouTube. Videos can be up to 10 minutes long to start, with larger accounts able to post hourlong videos. Over the long term, the company expects to let all users post videos of unlimited length, Systrom said.
There will be no ads on IGTV to start, but that would be “a reasonable place to end up,” Systrom said. He said there would be a revenue-sharing deal with partners eventually, but not to start.
Instagram’s introduction of 24-hour, ephemeral stories and and direct messaging features were designed to make it a primary communication channel for its users. IGTV represents an effort to expand in a different direction — toward connecting people toward their broader interests. Instagram would increasingly try to both marry personal relationships and interests, Systrom said. “You can’t really get that anywhere else — that unique mix of the two,” Systrom said.
At a morning event that had the look and feel of a late-night rave, Instagram executives announced the launch of the new app. Instagram stars at the event included celebrity Fortnite Ninja, Susie Shu (115,000 followers), Katie Austin (133,000 followers), Bryce Xavier (286,000 followers), Lauren Godwin (550,000 followers), Lauren Riihimaki (4.2 million followers), and Lele Pons (25 million followers). The company also announced today that Instagram now has 1 billion users.