Instagram has just launched a stand-alone app called IGTV, and as the initialism would suggest, it’s ‘Instagram TV’. This has the possibility of being the biggest move for Instagram to-date, beyond moving away from the square crop, beyond stories, and beyond Instagram Live, because what IGTV could very well become is an actual YouTube rival.
IGTV is a new way to consume IG-related video, and video that will be made specifically formatted for how we consume on our phones, which means full screen and vertical, and it’ll be long-form up to an hour (that you can scrub through). Oh, and if you weren’t aware, IG clearly understands no one wants to watch crap quality video for an hour, to they’ve built-in a desktop uploader that will allow creators to actually shoot high-quality footage on proper video/cinema cameras and upload to IGTV. Got a GH5 or A7SII? No problem? Shoot on RED? Use it.
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Like TV, IGTV will have channels, and those channels are the creators. This will help make IGTV familiar to old and new users alike, and if you follow someone on IG already you’ll be subscribed to them on IGTV so you won’t miss a beat. This will incentivize both sides of the app (creators and consumers) to jump in and use it, which is half the battle for any new app or service.
But we’ve seen this before, right? Over the course of the last few years we’ve seen brauny but unworthy challengers to the YouTube empire eat column inches like fame-thirsty D-listers, but unable to breach the wall. Yet, the mere fact any smart content creator knows that you shouldn’t ever aim to claim an audience on any single platform suggests there’s room for another option. And since we know all empires eventually fall, all content creators have asked themselves recently: What would I do and where would I go if YouTube was to take a nose-dive?
The next question is then, could IGTV be the next real YouTube challenger, what has it got going for it already, and what does it need?
YouTube as it stands right now still is the destination for video, and for a veritable cornucopia of reasons. They’ve got the viewership, they provide monetization options, they provide analytics, tools to upload and work around a creator’s schedule, and as a YouTube consumer they’ve tailored it all to be easily searchable, and just intuitive to use on any device. All other video platforms from Vine, vimeo, Facebook and Snapchat have failed in one or more of these areas, but IGTV already has a lot of it sorted out.
First and foremost there’s the numbers. Instagram’s got em. In fact, the launch of IGTV coincides with the announcement Instagram is now a global community of 1 billion users. That’s ‘billion’ with a capital ‘B’, which dwarfs Snapchat and makes vimeo look like a vole.
And it’s more than that, because the other area IG shines is a heretofore unseen level of dedication to the individual creative, which ironically leads us to two burning questions about IGTV, the answers to which will likely define its success:
How are they going to monetize it for the creators? How will they make it a destination where specific content can easily be found?
Monetization is arguably the number one area YouTube dominates at the moment, well, that and discovery because their search is extremely good, and these are two areas together IG has so far struggled with.
‘Search’ in IG doesn’t exist in the most intuitive way, as you can rely on the ‘Discovery’ area but that uses your current behavior to feed back similar things to you, or use hashtags, but that doesn’t allow for a scope beyond absolute specificity. Will they change that? Perhaps, and we hope, but monetization of IGTV for the creative is sure to be a top priority for them if they plan to pull users away from YouTube, so it wouldn’t be out of touch to assume that’s coming.
All in all, IGTV looks promising.