Instagram Is Your “Real” Mobile Television: The Introduction of IGTV

By Caleb Gleit, Social Media Intern at MSM DesignZ, Inc. 

Instagram released a press statement and video introducing IGTV, standing for “Instagram Television,” as a standalone app and a service integrated Instagram. This is major news – one of the largest announcements by Instagram to date – so we at MSM are going to take you through what IGTV is, why it is, how to use it, and what it means for the future of Instagram and video in general.

What is IGTV?

IGTV is a standalone application that works as a video complement to Instagram. It’s mean to provide a venue for Instagram creators to share longer, higher quality videos than what you’d typically find on Instagram. The IGTV service is also integrated into the home Instagram app. IGTV is entirely mobile, so the video format is vertical. The videos aren’t limited to one minute, as they are on Instagram, and can go up to a hour in length. The IGTV app, once opened, starts playing video content from people you follow immediately – and for IGTV, people are “channels.’ Additionally, Instagram suggests channels you may be interested in, based on who you follow and your interests.

Why is IGTV?

Currently, most mobile apps have a video function – Instagram included – but platforms dedicated specifically to video aren’t that common. The main competitor is Youtube, but they focus a lot on their desktop experience as well as the mobile experience. Instagram is taking their mobile audience of 1 billion – which is also a huge announcement – and giving them a Instagram exclusive, mobile focused video platform. As far as we know, this is the largest mobile video platform that exists, which is an achievement by itself. Additionally, locking video playback to vertical video – which is how Instagram says you “actually use your phone” – makes this more suitable for mobile performance. Although, it also accept horizontal video as well.

Additionally, Kevin Systrom, the CEO of Instagram, describes our current video capability for mobile devices as outdated we watch horizontal video on these screens, so why not make a platform that is similar to television but more suitable for the mobile devices that we use today? It’s a solid point and a sure sign of where video content is headed for the future.

How can I use it?

IGTV is currently available to download and is in full flow. The app is seamless, and you can transition through videos as you would Instagram Stories. You can search IGTV, click through videos, and watch high-quality content. Four tabs guide you through your video experience:

  • “For You” is a tailored section which Instagram determines for your account. This section shows what the algorithm thinks you’d like to watch.

  • “Following” shows videos from accounts you follow only.

  • “Popular” shows which videos are currently popular on Instagram.

  • “Continue Watching” shows videos that you paused or swiped through.

Additionally, you can follow Instagram users through IGTV and search IGTV for content. It’s ridiculously easy to use and follow, and it integrates with the Instagram app seamlessly.

What’s the deal with monetization?

Recode reported that Instagram is “committed to helping [creators] build their careers and make a living doing this work.” Monetization for creators could become a option in the future, but for right now IGTV needs to be explored and tested more before they fully launch a monetization initiative.

How does it compare to other video services, like Youtube?

IGTV is mobile only – which makes it a unique competitor among services that provide video hosting like Facebook, Twitter, and most importantly Youtube. Having the app be mobile only seems like a limiting move, but for the 1 billion Instagram users it won’t be a detriment.

Having vertical video being the only option could be a crutch, but editing video content outside of the app and then uploading it to Instagram to format it to the square ratio is a long-standing practice and will continue to be upheld. Edited horizontal videos definitely have a place on the IGTV app, and as such the app is a solid competitor to video hosting services. Whether it can hold users (since you can view videos on Instagram anyways) is only for time to tell, but for now Instagram has released a formidable opponent into the world of mobile video.

IGTV looks very, very promising. Integration with the main Instagram app is very important, and they’ve done it successfully. The IGTV app itself is beautifully laid out and easy to use. For now, it looks like the future of mobile content has just moved a step forward, and for the future, we’re not sure what will happen, but IGTV does seem like a step in the right direction.

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