IGTV: The future of online video or just another platform phase?

Submitted by on the 21st of August 2018

Mobile first, it’s the reality of creating content for social in 2018, and with video as the best performing format for content, is a shift to vertical video finally upon us?

With over 1 billion monthly active users, Instagram is fast becoming the social platform of choice for content creators. On June 21st, this once purely photo-sharing app launched its latest addition – a stand-alone, as well as in-app service called IGTV. It’s intention? To rival the video content king, YouTube.

The app has been specifically designed for watching longer-form video from a mobile device. Which means that all videos must be uploaded in vertical format.  Instagram states that, “just like turning on the TV, IGTV starts playing as soon as you open the app. But instead of TV channels, the creators on IGTV are the channels”. Creators’ IGTV “channels” appear on their profile next to their highlight/story reels and unlike your 15 second stories, videos on IGTV can extend up to 60 minutes.

 

IGTV automatically plays content from people you already follow on Instagram. 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 via DM.

IGtv post

It’s been over a month, and those ‘early adopters’ well, they don’t seem to be adopting.

After experimenting with the app first hand, this is my take on the good, bad and ugly of Instagram’s latest offering:

 

Good:

  1. It fills up the entire screen. No black bars or text cluttering up precious screen real estate, (once you have selected a video to watch) vertical video (if done properly) is very easy and enjoyable to consume.
  2. You will be able to upload to IGTV from desktop in the (very) near future, and there is talk of monetisation for creators in 2019.
  3. If you have a large following on IG, that same following applies to IGTV – so you don’t have to build a new community from scratch.

 

Bad:

  1. Is a vertical format really better for consuming longer form video content? IMO – no.
    If you are willing to commit to watching more than 2 minutes of video on your mobile device, you’re more than likely willing to turn your phone horizontally as well. Vertical is a style best suited to short form / story / vlog-style content.
  2. The search functionality, to put it bluntly, sucks. You can only search for creators, not themes or topics, and because the search function is based on usernames and bios, it’s almost impossible to discover new accounts unless the search word appears in their handle or description.
  3. The interface is cluttered. The irony is, to navigate inside the app the full screen video becomes cluttered by thumbnails, search functions and suggested “channels”.   

 

    

Ugly:

  1. We’re overwhelmed. Platforms may be at risk of spreading themselves too thin. There is a fine line between being innovative and abandoning what is working.
  2. In South Africa, where data sensitivity is high, IGTV doesn’t seem accessible to the mass market. Very few people are likely to watch a 10 minute video on their phone without a high-speed data connection.
  3. IGTV has a long way to go to before becoming a real competitor to YouTube, even in the mobile video content space. Vertical is a step in the right direction but overall, YouTube still offers better functionality and ease of view, even on mobile.

 

       

 

The bottom-line? People consume different content differently. YouTube is solidifying their status on top by adapting to make vertical videos viewable as well and will most likely remain the preferred video content platform for the foreseeable future. If Instagram is your platform of choice, and you are looking to expand your creative capabilities, it may be a good idea to give IGTV a go. However, for now, IGTV is not going to help you to significantly grow your Instagram audience, so have fun with IG’s latest feature, but don’t bet on it changing your IG game, just yet.