Instagram Releases IGTV: You Can Now Upload One-Hour Long Videos to the Platform

Instagram Releases IGTV: You Can Now Upload One-Hour Long Videos to the Platform

Instagram just released a new feature that had been rumored for a while: long format videos. Named IGTV, the service will let users share and watch one-hour long clips. But will it be good enough to compete with existing platforms such as YouTube?

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about a rumor regarding Instagram working on the integration of long-format videos on its platform. It’s now real, and most users already have access to it. IGTV, short for Instagram TV, is the latest addition to what used to be only a photo-sharing social network a few years ago.

How IGTV Works

IGTV is available as a separated app for both iOS and Android, but it’s also accessible within the Instagram app through the new button placed next to the DM button. It’s not limited to influencers with a massive following; it’s available to anyone. Some accounts may be limited to 10-minute long videos during the first few weeks of the launch, but then everyone will be able to upload one-hour long videos, and perhaps even longer in the future.

Instagram decided to create an app dedicated to the video service not because it’s poorly integrated with the current app, but because they wanted to offer a clean app for you to watch videos without any distraction. The IGTV app is easy to use and very basic. A search feature, four tabs to access the content of people you follow, the most popular videos, footage recommended for you, and also a way to keep on watching videos you started watching but didn’t finish.

The way you watch videos is a mix between what you can find on Facebook with the pause and play button, a timeline to skip through the footage; how Instagram Stories work with the possibility of swiping through different videos, but then you still retain the like, comment, and share buttons of Instagram. The videos also have a link so you can share the content outside of Instagram.

What Are the Limitations for Creators and Viewers?

The app designed for vertical videos. Try to turn your mobile to landscape mode and nothing will change. So if you were planning on uploading all your content from YouTube channel straight to IGTV, you might need to edit your videos beforehand.

Videos on IGTV also follow the current Instagram guidelines, meaning no nude, violent, nude, discriminatory, or hateful content can be posted. It’ll be interesting to see how reactive the company will be before taking down footage that doesn’t respect the rules and regulations.

Videos will also have to be at least 15-seconds long to be accepted by IGTV. It makes sense as otherwise, it could just be published as a Story on Instagram.

No Ads on IGTV... For Now

Instagram announced that the service would be free of advertising… for now. So creators won’t be able to monetize their videos with ads like on YouTube with Ad-Sense. But as Facebook already offers an advertising platform and with a social network that is 1 billion users big, it’s easy to imagine it probably won’t be long before ads make their way to IGTV.

Will It Compete With YouTube?

It is probably the question most people are wondering about. Obviously, the addition of long format videos to Instagram is a way to try to get a share of the YouTube viewers and creators. However, both platforms are different and probably won’t be competing just now.

For starters, while it’s possible to upload videos to IGTV from your computer, it’s apparently only possible to watch videos from within the app. The videos on IGTV are also limited to a vertical format. Of course, it’s possible to add an introduction asking the user to turn the phone, but it’s not the most practical thing as the interface won’t change with the orientation of the mobile.

IGTV seems to be great for those enjoying Instagram Stories but want to make longer formats or people who’d like to vlog or publish videos while taking advantage of their Instagram following base. However, the vertical formats limit somewhat the content. I doubt many will take the time to record their screen in vertical mode for tutorials, even if it’s possible. But who knows, perhaps the platform will open the doors to new kind of content. It could also work well as a pair with YouTube and not as a replacement.

What do think about IGTV? Are you already using it? Do you feel like it’s going to change anything for YouTube or any other platform? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

Quentin Decaillet's picture

Quentin Décaillet is a photographer and retoucher based in Switzerland specializing in portrait and wedding photography.

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Initial thoughts...I have no idea how this will do.

I can easily see this being a hit success as much as it could be a colossal failure. YouTube is still king in the stand-alone video space, but from my experience in the social advertising field, is that brands are shifting more and more to vertical. It goes without saying people are consuming more via mobile opposed to desktop which is why this move from Instagram makes sense. Instagram already squandered Snapchat, can they do the same to an even bigger giant YouTube? I don't think that's completely their angle but it's possible. I believe they see a space that hasn't been attained.

The reason why I can see this fail is because of the framework of what Instagram is built on, instant. Everything they do is under one minute: stories, videos, photos, everything. Are people really going to watch an hour-long, vertical video on their phone? On an Instagram app? Having it as a stand-alone app could also be a barrier.

We'll see.

It's actually a lot more fleshed out than I thought it would be at this stage. The 10 second jump aheads and timeline scrub with thumbnail preview are great to have. Unfortunately "Popular" has already been taken over by celebrity and commercial trash rather than interesting content creators, which is a big problem if they don't want to fuck it up like Snapchat has in Discover. It's also kind of funny seeing almost no well produced videos as people don't really know yet how to best make vertical videos look good. Everyone needs to take one more step back.

This feels a little like a seafood restaurant offering steak. A good seafood place might have a great steak, but when I go to a seafood restaurant, I want seafood. I doubt YouTube will start hosting images. They succeed as a video platform partly due to their specialization in video, not venturing into other areas.

So....they rip off snapchat for their stories and now they want to compete with youtube with vertical phone videos? And of course the new subscription thing they are talking about where people pay to see your content ala Twitch.

People are running away from their sites not because of lack of features but that they won't let anyone see anything even if you do post. How stupid is it to chase everyone off Facebook that spent years building an audience only to ask them to post with their new stuff? Nope. Once a company loses your trust all the ripped off features you add won't bring them back. I use the bug filled messenger (because you have to on facebook) and Instagram when I feel like it. Total waste.

Vertical videos to enjoy. What a stupid fucking idea. They should start producing vertical TVs for people who enjoy this.

I guess they had to try to see how people react. Perhaps people outside the photography and cinematography will appreciate, and we'll have to learn to live with it… just like it may never work and Instagram could offer landscape as well. It'll be interesting to see how that goes.