Instagram just declared war on YouTube with a new long-form video app

Instagram just declared war on YouTube with a new long-form video app

  • Instagram just effectively declared war on YouTube and Snapchat.
  • On Wednesday it announced IGTV, a new long-form video app.
  • Users can access it both via a dedicated app for iOS and Android, and a section within the traditional Instagram app.
  • IGTV won’t have ads at launch, but ads will likely be added later on. “There will be a way for creators to make a living,” Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said.

Instagram just unveiled a new way to help it compete with the likes of YouTube and Snapchat. 

On Wednesday, the Faceook-owned social networking app unveiled IGTV, a new app for publishing long-form videos on Instagram. The new app will allow creators to produce 4K vertical videos that are significantly longer than the current limit of 60 seconds. 

“We’ve come a really long way in just eight years, and it’s thanks to this incredible community … that we’ve been able to launch IGTV,” Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said on stage at a launch event in San Francisco that was beset by delays and technical issues.

It’s a move that brings Instagram into direct competition with YouTube, as well as Snapchat’s Discover section, as it attempts to persuade high-profile influencers — and ordinary users — to make the jump for their web video needs.

And it’s also a gamble: The mobile-first, vertical-video format is popular when it comes to short clips (like Instagram Stories) — but it’s relatively untested when it comes to longer-form content. Will ordinary people want to watch videos up to an hour long in a vertical format? Instagram is betting that the answer is yes.

“It’s mobile first, it’s simple, and it’s quality. That’s IGTV,” Systrom said.

There will be a standalone IGTV app, as well as an IGTV experience built into the main Instagram app, where it can be accessed via a dedicated section. (The long-form videos won’t appear in the traditional Instagram feed, though users’ follows and followers will transfer over to the new section.) The CEO said IGTV will be available today for Android and iOS, and will also be available through an update in the Instagram app.

The app is aimed at what Instagram calls “creators,” but anyone can create and upload their own videos. High-profile initial users include Kim Kardashian West, Selena Gomez, and Kevin Hart, Instagram said in a press release, as well as influencer Lele Pons (who will be making a cooking show) and Instagram-famous dog Jiffpom.

To start, there will be a cap on the videos — 10 minutes for most users, and an hour for certain accounts with more followers. Those limits are likely be to temporary, however, and Instagram says it intends to remove them down the line. 

In a press Q&A after the event, Systrom said there will not be ads on the videos for now — but there most likely will be in the future. 

“Right now we’re focused on building engagement and there are no ads on IGTV from day one,” Systrom said. “But that’s obviously a very reasonable place to end up. There will be a way for creators to make a living.”

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