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What Is Instagram’s New Video Platform, IGTV?

The push toward video continues with the Facebook-owned social networking service, Instagram, launching its new feature and app, IGTV. Simply put, IGTV is a video platform similar to YouTube or Vimeo, but it’s available through Instagram as a mobile-only video platform.

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

So How Do I Get IGTV and How Does It Work?

You will notice IGTV after updating your Instagram app. It appears as a little black-and-white television button to the left of your direct message inbox.

The IGTV icon is this little black-and-white television button.

Upon opening IGTV, video begins playing automatically, featuring content under three categories: For You, Following, and Popular, with an additional Continue Watching tab at the end for when you need to hit pause.

The IGTV symbol will light up like this when new videos are added.

The IGTV symbol will light up when new videos are added, sometimes displaying a message with a short description of the latest video. Upon entering IGTV, the first video in the For You channel will begin playing, but you can swipe across to watch videos from accounts you are following as well as Popular videos across the IGTV network (see examples below).

Videos such as these appear in the For You section of IGTV.
Videos such as these appear in the Following section of IGTV.
Videos such as these appear in the Popular section of IGTV.

What Makes IGTV Different from Other Video Platforms?

Your next question might be, “Isn’t this the same thing as Stories or videos posted in the feed?” Unlike videos on Stories or your feed, videos featured on IGTV can be as long as 10 minutes for most accounts and up to an hour for larger “influencer” accounts. However, rumor has it that Instagram plans on removing a time limit altogether. IGTV is also distinctly different from YouTube, because it supports full-screen, vertically-oriented videos, which makes sense for a mobile-only platform. Furthermore, in connection with Instagram’s latest update and goal of building engagement, IGTV is completely ad-free . . . for now. “But that’s obviously a very reasonable place to end up. There will be a way for creators to make a living,” Systrom said in a press conference following the launch.

Who’s Using IGTV?

Creators on IGTV have their own channels, similar to YouTube channels, that are also accessible from their Instagram profiles. It’s no surprise that Instagram made the leap to try to pull in creators. The continuing rise of digital video and decline of TV have created an opportunity for creators to shine and a race between companies such as Facebook, Snapchat, and YouTube to seize control as the superior video streaming source.

Will IGTV Be the Elite Video Platform?

The future of IGTV remains unclear and seems mostly in the hands of the video content creators themselves. Facebook/Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and other companies will have to win over these creators with more features, more capabilities, and, most importantly, ways to monetize these channels. In the meantime, IGTV users can enjoy losing hours of the day watching quality video from their favorite creators.

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