The move vaults the Facebook-owned social network into the race to aggregate social video. By “longform,” the company does not mean The Crown or Game of Thrones; rather, the goal is to generate pieces of content in the 10-minute range common across YouTube and other social networks, principally Snapchat. The offerings will include some scripted shows, as well as music videos.
“With all of the cat videos, how do you find the creators you guys all love?” founder-CEO Kevin Systrom asked the crowd. “In a world of overwhelming choice, you want the best videos, not all videos.”
The full-screen videos will have vertical orientation and be capable of 4K resolution. The hub will offer users the option of assembling favorites and continuing to watch videos after pausing. In rolling out the service, Instagram announced it has reached 1 billion global users.
Instagram has seen its fortunes rise in recent months, in part due to stumbles by Snapchat after a disastrous update to its app. Many members of Snapchat’s young-skewing user base migrated to Instagram. While the app began as a home for still photos augmented by filters and text messages, it added shortform video functionality in 2013 and has increasingly looked for ways to make video a more significant part of its strategy and consumer offering.
IGTV arrives on the heels of a major push, which is ongoing, by corporate parent Facebook with its Watch hub for original video. Compared with the Instagram hub, though, Watch is much more of a playground for professionally produced fare. Instagram will continue to embrace its community of creators and look to shine a light on their videos with a setup that is more comparable
The new initiative was unveiled simultaneously today at five Instagram offices around the world. The livestream repeatedly encountered glitches, with Systrom’s introductory remarks playing twice and then later segments dropping out entirely.
Presumably, the scene elsewhere resembled the one at Facebook’s New York City headquarters, a plushed-out space inside the former Wanamaker’s department store at Astor Place. In a meta-spectacle, attendees Instagrammed their colorful poke bowls, gelato cones and flavored popcorn as they roamed around the space waiting for execs to take the stage.
As it scrambled to co-ordinate the multi-site, streaming launch, Instagram kept the crowd waiting for quite a while. The New York event was scheduled for noon-2 PM ET, but it didn’t even start until after 2.