Instagram Takes on TV With New App for Longer Video

man on Instagram
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MENLO PARK, Calif. – Instagram unveiled a new video platform last week in San Francisco that allows certain creators to upload videos that run for up to an hour – but most creators will be capped at 10 minutes per video.

Instagram revealed the platform, dubbed IGTV, just days after it announced that it’s reached 1 billion monthly active users, up from 800 million in September. The app works with Android and iOS, and videos will appear in a vertical format, ideal for mobile devices.

Content will start playing immediately when users open the app. There will also be sections in IGTV called “For You,” “Following,” “Popular,” and “Continue Watching.”

“Video is the way we hang out with friends, the way we pass the time, but the way we watch it is changing,” said Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom at the event according to The New York Times. “Teens might be watching less TV, but they’re watching more creators online.”

Systrom said Instagram chose to make IGTV a standalone tool because users don’t typically want longer videos on the main app, where videos are limited to 60 seconds.

"When people browse through the feed, they don't want to stop and watch a 10-minute video," Systrom says. Instead they can seek out the longer videos in IGTV, where they can run for up to an hour. 

Systrom expects IGTV to eventually do away with time limits on videos. For now, there are some restrictions on what accounts will have privileges to record for an hour. Smaller accounts will only be given 10-minute video limits, but Instagram did not specify the exact criteria for what qualifies as an account for the longer video option.

So far, there are no ads in IGTV, but brands can create their own channels.

Instagram is following its parent company’s lead into the longer-form video space. Last year, Facebook launched Watch, a section for shows from professional media companies. Those shows feature commercial breaks, and Facebook splits money with the creators.