Instagram TV (IGTV), Instagram's first foray into the long-form video content arena, was launched on June 20, 2018. The announcement was made by Instagram CEO and co-founder Kevin Systrom at an event in San Francisco.
The new service follows Instagram's recent milestone of reaching the 1 billion user mark, an achievement only ever previously held by five other apps Facebook, Facebook Messenger, YouTube, WhatsApp and WeChat.
The way we consume video content has changed significantly in recent years; young people now watch 40% less TV than five years ago, but within the last year, there has been a 60% increase in the amount of video content watched on Instagram alone.
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The evolution of watching habits led Instagram to conclude that its users wanted both long-form and vertical video. Video platforms like YouTube – launched in 2005, two years before the first iPhone was released – format their videos to match traditional TV offerings.
Most video content today is watched on smartphones, often making the traditional format awkward. When YouTube is watched on smartphones, it is either shrunk to a third of the screen or the user has to flip the screen sideways. With IGTV conveying all of its content in a vertical smartphone format, Instagram has positioned itself to take on YouTube for the content creator crown. The launch event featured popular YouTube creators such as Ninja in the opening, collaborative performance, in a move that could be seen as provocative.
IGTV will have a standalone app, but users will now also be able to watch and create long-form videos on the original Instagram app.
"We've made it simple, too" Systrom explained. "Just like turning on the TV, IGTV starts playing as soon as you open the app. You don’t have to search to start watching content from people you already follow on Instagram and others you might like based on your interests. You can swipe up to discover more — switch between 'For You,' 'Following,' 'Popular' and 'Continue Watching.' You can also like, comment and send videos to friends in Direct.
"Instagram has always been a place to connect with the people who inspire, educate and entertain you every day. With your help, IGTV begins a new chapter of video on Instagram. We hope it brings you closer to the people and things you love," he concluded.