Instagram Unveils IGTV, A New Long-Form Video Service

Kevin Systrom, CEO and co-founder of Instagram
Jeff Chiu / AP Images

Instagram has announced that it’s offering a new service called IGTV for long-form videos, from professional Instagram creators at an event in San Francisco Wednesday morning, reports Variety. The new service will be situated 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,” shared Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom.

“Teens may be watching less TV, but they are watching more creators online,” he said. Because of that, Systrom wanted IGTV to be Instagram’s answer to that paradigm shift so as to be able to meet their growing consumption needs. IGTV is to be both a hub within the current Instagram app, as well as a new dedicated app that allows users to watch IGTV videos. They will be produced by some of Instagram’s top creators and curated based on past viewing behavior of Instagram’s users, according to Variety. Interestingly, there won’t be any ads with the service at launch. So far, the company doesn’t have revenue share agreements in place with creators. “Right now, we are focused on building engagement,” Systrom said during a press Q&A following the announcement.

From our CEO @kevin: “Today, we have two big announcements to share. First, Instagram is now a global community of one billion! Since our launch in 2010, we’ve watched with amazement as the community has flourished and grown. This is a major accomplishment — so from all of us at Instagram, thank you! Second, we’re announcing our most exciting feature to date: IGTV, a new app for watching long-form, vertical video from your favorite Instagram creators, like LaurDIY (@laurdiy) posting her newest project or King Bach (@kingbach) sharing his latest comedy skit. While there’s a stand-alone IGTV app, you’ll also be able to watch from within the Instagram app so the entire community of one billion can use it from the very start. IGTV is different in a few ways. First, it’s built for how you actually use your phone, so videos are full screen and vertical. Also, unlike on Instagram, videos aren’t limited to one minute. Instead, each video can be up to an hour long. We made it simple, too. Just like turning on the TV, IGTV starts playing as soon as you open the app. You don’t have to search to start watching content from people you already follow on Instagram and others you might like based on your interests. You can swipe up to discover more — switch between “For You,” “Following,” “Popular” and “Continue Watching.” You can also like, comment and send videos to friends in Direct. Also like TV, IGTV has channels. But, in IGTV, the creators are the channels. When you follow a creator on Instagram, their IGTV channel will show up for you to watch. Anyone can be a creator — you can upload your own IGTV videos in the app or on the web to start your own channel. Instagram has always been a place to connect with the people who inspire, educate and entertain you every day. With your help, IGTV begins a new chapter of video on Instagram. We hope it brings you closer to the people and things you love. IGTV will be rolling out globally over the next few weeks on iOS and Android.

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The official Instagram page released the above video, along with an announcement about the new service, saying, “IGTV is different in a few ways. First, it’s built for how you actually use your phone, so videos are full screen and vertical. Also, unlike on Instagram, videos aren’t limited to one minute. Instead, each video can be up to an hour long.”

This will come as good news to those who felt stymied by the small files Instagram was allowing to be shared on their service previously. But be careful watching if you’re at work. “Just like turning on the TV, IGTV starts playing as soon as you open the app. You don’t have to search to start watching content from people you already follow on Instagram and others you might like based on your interests.” While that might seem convenient, you want to be sure you’re someplace watching that having a video start playing won’t cause a problem.

They also want people to know that just like your TV at home, IGTV has channels except in IGTV, those channels are the creators themselves. As you follow a creator on Instagram, their IGTV channel will show up and be available to start watching. And like most of social media, anyone can be a creator so you can upload your own IGTV videos in the app or on the web to start your own channel. Considering the service is boasting that it now has a global community of one billion, that’s a lot of channels.