- Instagram is removing a button on the home page of its main app that directs users to IGTV, the long-form video streaming feature, according to a report in TechCrunch.
- Users mostly discover IGTV content via previews in the main Instagram feed or the Explore tab's dedicated IGTV channel versus the standalone button, which received comparably few clicks, a Facebook spokesperson told the publication.
- A standalone app dedicated to IGTV has 7 million downloads at most, per TechCrunch — a number representing a negligible piece of Instagram's total base of more than 1 billion users.
The deprecation of the IGTV button from the main Instagram app suggests that the video portal's overall traction has been slim. Another pain point for IGTV, per TechCrunch, has been the lack of monetization options for creators, who don't receive ad revenue from video streams or access to the types of user tipping that's prevalent on rival streaming services such as Amazon's Twitch.
The news signals that another big Facebook bet on streaming video content may have stalled, or at least not taken off in a meaningful way two years after launch. Some high-profile creators and publishers were reimbursed by Facebook for producing IGTV content from the outset. But even influencers with a considerable Instagram presence, such as BabyAriel, who has 10 million followers, never commanded a consistently large audience on IGTV, TechCrunch reported.
In some regards, IGTV's sluggish adoption mirrors that of Facebook Watch, the social giant's bid to establish a bigger YouTube competitor on its core app. Contemporary reports around Watch's 2017 rollout suggested that most views were directed to the feature from posts in the main News Feed versus organic visits. That story is echoed in the TechCrunch report and reasoning behind Facebook now eliminating the IGTV button on Instagram.
A dearth of monetization options seems to have played a major role in disincentivizing publishers and influencers — and, by extension, brands looking to tap into their followings — from sinking time and resources into IGTV. A plethora of other apps, including Facebook's video offerings in its main app, provide ad revenue share and tipping options, and newer players like TikTok are attracting younger social media users. The deprecation of the IGTV button additionally arrives as Instagram shifts more focus to commerce through the introduction of in-app checkout and more shoppable ad formats.
IGTV has some additional corporate history to consider. The feature was a personal project for Instagram co-founder and former CEO Kevin Systrom, who marketed the portal's exclusive focus on long-form vertical video content as radical, including at a splashy launch event timed around Instagram's hitting 1 billion users. But, as TechCrunch notes, IGTV ditched that narrow focus in May 2019 with the introduction of a landscape mode.
Systrom and fellow co-founder Mike Krieger abruptly resigned from Instagram in September 2018, just a few months after IGTV's debut. Reports indicated their vision increasingly clashed with those of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has made a mission of wresting greater control over Facebook's suite of products and unifying them technologically on the back end.