Instagram is ready to compete head on with YouTube. Today at a flashy event in San Francisco, the company announced it will begin allowing users to upload videos up to 1 hour in length, up from the previous 1 minute limit. And to house the new longer-form videos from star content creators, Instagram is launching IGTV. Accessible from a button atop the Instagram homescreen, IGTV will spotlight popular videos from Instagram celebrities.
The launch confirms TechCrunch’s scoops over the past month outlining the features and potential of IGTV that we said would arrive today, following the WSJ’s report that Instagram would offer videos up to an hour in length.
“It’s time for video to move forward, and evolve” said Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom on stage at the event. “IGTV is for watching long-from videos from your favorite creators.”
Instagram’s press event just started, but the Instagram Business blog has already been updated with all the details of today’s launch.
IGTV will let anyone be a creator, not just big name celebrities. People will be able to upload vertical videos through Instagram’s app or the web.
In the IGTV hub, viewers will be able to swipe through a variety of longer-form videos, or swipe up to visit a Browse tab of personally recommend videos, popular videos, creators they’re following, and the option to continue watching previously started videos. Users will also get callouts from the IGTV button alerting them to new content.
IGTV will also let creators develop Instagram Channels full of their different videos that people can subscribe to.
With 1 billion users on Instagram, IGTV could be popular with creators not only trying to earn money but grow their audience. Instagram is expected to build out a monetization option for IGTV creators, potentially including ad revenue shares. The big user base could also attract advertisers. eMarketer already expects Instagram to earn $5.48 billion in US ad revenue in 2018.
Instagram has evolved far beyond the initial simplicity of just filtering and sharing photos. When it launched, mobile networks, screens, and cameras weren’t ready for longer-form video, and neither were users. As more families cut the cord or teens ignore television all together, though, Instagram has an opportunity to become the TV of mobile. YouTube may always have a wider breadth of content. But through curation of creators and publishers’ video content, Instagram could become the reliable place to watch something great on the small screen.