- Instagram launched a standalone platform for long-form videos aimed at "bringing audiences closer to the creators they love," CEO Kevin Systrom announced at a company event on Wednesday. To start, there will be a cap for videos on the IGTV platform: 10 minutes for most users and 60 minutes for certain accounts with larger followings, up from the previous one-minute limit.
- As a launch partner for the new platform, National Geographic will air the full, final episode of its docu-series "One Strange Rock," the company shared with Mobile Marketer. The 47-minute show will be adapted for vertical screens and features astronauts as principal storytellers, covering topics such as the history of Earth's geology, atmosphere and biology.
- While the separate IGTV app serves as a hub for the longer-form videos, users can access the content from the main Instagram app home screen. High-profile users other than Nat Geo who have tested the new platform, per Business Insider, include Kim Kardashian West, Selena Gomez, Kevin Hart and the Instagram-famous dog Jiffpom, which has 8.8 million followers. Anyone can be a creator on the platform and upload videos in the app or via the web. Systrom noted that while IGTV won't have ads at launch, it's "obviously a very reasonable place [for ads] to end up."
Nat Geo, which has the largest following of any brand on Instagram with 88.7 million followers, continues to extend its reach to younger audiences by delivering unique content where those people spend time online. The media company already has several social media wins, including the first live chat with an astronaut stationed at the International Space Station.
Now, Nat Geo is leveraging Instagram's new long-form video platform to enhance its storytelling capabilities and make its content more widely available to fans. It's unclear how the media brand will use the platform beyond airing a vertically adapted version of the "One Strange Rock" finale, or if it plans to develop content specifically for IGTV down the line. Simply testing the platform early on could lead to future business and audience development opportunities.
IGTV comes as social media companies look to expand their functionality beyond core uses of connecting with friends and sharing photos or video clips. With the new platform, Instagram appears to be focusing on a younger audience that is accustomed to TV alternatives like streaming sites Hulu and YouTube. The move puts IGTV in direct competition with YouTube, which uses programs like YouTube Creators to support its community of video influencers. IGTV's focus isn't on episodic, TV-like content, as it seems to be the case with some YouTube channels and Facebook Watch.
The announcement follows news earlier this week that Facebook plans to launch tools to help content creators make their videos more engaging and interactive with live polling, challenges and gamification. This, along with Facebook-owned Instagram's latest news, signals that the social giant is doubling down on its efforts to attract more content creators in a bid to better compete with YouTube. Instagram's decision to let anyone create content on IGTV opens the door for more creators — and brands — to get in on the action and tap into Instagram's user base of 1 billion.