Arts & Culture

Instagram Launches Long-Form Video Service Called IGTV

FILE PHOTO: The Instagram application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017.   REUTERS/Thomas White
FILE PHOTO: The Instagram application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White

LOS ANGELES —- At an event in San Francisco Wednesday morning, Instagram unveiled IGTV, a new service for long-form videos from professional Instagram creators. 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,” Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said.

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 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 add fund original content “for the foreseeable future.”

The Facebook-owned video service also announced that it will give users the ability to upload videos of up to ten 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 videos Stories at 15 seconds. Live streams were limited to one hour.

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Systrom revealed Tuesday that Instagram has now more than 1 billion monthly users. The Facebook-owned service hadn’t shared any user numbers since September of last year, when the service 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 show 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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