Instagram has finally launched its long-form video hub, IGTV. Users can now upload up to 60 minutes of video content through the new feature.
IGTV's launch has been anticipated for a while, so it isn't a surprise. But what does it all mean for YouTube?
IGTV's rollout is Instagram's biggest feature launch since Instagram Direct in 2017. The hub is accessible from a button inside Instagram, as well as a standalone app.
It is still being rolled out worldwide but most who have already gotten access have an initial limit of 10 minutes for most users. Accounts with larger audiences can immediately upload content for a full hour.
Breaking with tradition, IGTV videos are vertical and full-screen, and not horizontal. According to Instagram's CEO this reflects how "how you actually use your phone" since IGTV is a mobile-first platform.
Users can only see content from creators they already follow and engage with regularly. This lines up with the company's heavy focus on engagement.
Instagram is now in direct competition with video giant YouTube. There's no doubt about that. YouTube is still the world's largest site for video content and is also the second-largest search engine, so it definitely has the advantage in this battle.
That isn't likely to change in the near future since Instagram has a few issues to work on before IGTV can be serious competition.
People are naturally a little slow to adjust to new things. First, initial comparisons between IGTV videos and in-feed videos show more people are viewing content in the regular feed.
This is partially because IGTV isn't available to everyone yet. That means many creators are not reaching their whole audience with IGTV content.
With the threat of a new video hub breathing down its neck, YouTube isn't giving in.
The same week as IGTV's launch YouTube announced new features offering more monetization opportunities for creators. As TechCrunch writes:
This includes the rollout of channel memberships, merchandising, marketing partnerships via FameBit and the launch of “Premieres,” which offers a middle ground between pre-recorded, edited video and live streaming.
Before the main way for viewers to directly support their favorite YouTube creators was through platforms like Patreon. Now, finally, YT has stepped up to the plate to offer creators more opportunities to earn.
The feature to look out for though is Premieres. Here's the Premieres preview released by YouTube.
Premieres provides strong incentive (money!) to YouTubers for creating exclusive content for the platform. Meanwhile monetization options aren't immediately clear with IGTV.
There is an additional problem for Instagram. Many creators are just reformatting old videos to fit the vertical IGTV format. Until creators start actively producing new videos for the platforms, there won't be much reason for users to fully embrace it.
As creators explore ways of incorporating IGTV, Instagram needs to put work into highlighting how to get the most out of it.
The switch to vertical is also going to be an ongoing issue for IGTV. At this point in the digital evolution of the universe, everyone is used to holding their phones horizontally to watch the video. Forcing people to watch vertically, is kind of going against human nature.
It also guarantees regular extra work for creators who know have to think about filming for this format as well.
The point is: IGTV still has some work to do to become a real YouTube competitor.