Instagram Launches Long-Form Video Service Called IGTV

Instagram unveiled IGTV, a new service for long-form videos from professional Instagram creators, at an event in San Francisco Wednesday morning. IGTV will live both within the main Instagram app, as well as via a dedicated app for iOS and Android. “It’s mobile first, it’s simple and it’s high quality,” said Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom.

Systrom positioned IGTV as Instagram’s answer to shifting entertainment consumption habits. “Teens may be watching less TV, but they are watching more creators online,” he said.

At its heart, IGTV will be both a hub within the existing Instagram app, as well as a new dedicated app that will allow users to watch IGTV videos. These are basically vertical videos produced by some of Instagram’s top creators, and curated based on past viewing behavior of Instagram’s users.

At launch, IGTV will not feature any ads, and the company doesn’t yet have any revenue share agreements with creators in place. “Right now, we are focused on building engagement,” Systrom said during a Q&A with press following the announcement.

However, he said that Instagram ultimately wanted to allow creators to make a living on the service. “This is obviously a very reasonable place to end up,” he said about revenue sharing.

Instagram partnered with a number of creators to pre-populate the service with content, and executives said Wednesday that brands and media organizations would be invited to participate as well. However, Systrom said that the service had no plans to fund original content “for the foreseeable future.”

Instagram had invited a number of creators to its event, including Lele Pons, who has 25 million followers on the platform, as well as beauty vlogger Manny Gutierrez and video game streamer Ninja. Both Gutierrez and Ninja hadn’t produced any videos for IGTV yet, and were still trying to figure out how to best use the new platform. Ninja said that he was a bit concerned about making the vertical video format work for video game clips, and mused that he might do more personal, video blog-style clips.

Gutierrez stressed in an interview with Variety at the sidelines of the event that it was essential for Instagram to give creators a way to make money with IGTV, especially because of the added work the new format required. “Monetization is definitely going to need to roll out,” he said. “Creating longer content definitely takes a lot of work.”

Ninja echoed that sentiment, but was also optimistic about the general effect IGTV will have on the video creator community. Added competition to YouTube would ultimately result in better deals for creators, he argued. “The more the better. For sure.”

The Facebook-owned video service also announced that it will give users the ability to upload videos of up to 10 minutes in length. Select creators will be able to upload videos of up to an hour. Instagram is also allowing anyone to create their own IGTV channel. Previously, Instagram limited uploaded videos to 60 seconds, and capped Stories at 15 seconds. Live-streams were limited to one hour.

Systrom revealed Tuesday that Instagram now has more than 1 billion monthly users. The service hadn’t shared any user numbers since September of last year, when it surpassed 800 million monthly active users as well as 500 million daily active users.

The move to bring more professionally created video to Instagram’s 1 billion users comes as Facebook is also doubling down on Watch, its very own YouTube competitor within the core Facebook app. This week, Facebook announced a series of interactive shows that feature polls, quizzes, and more. On Tuesday, Facebook held its very first Creator Day in Los Angeles ahead of Vidcon, which is starting in Southern California later this week.

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