Is Instagram’s IGTV going to hurt YouTube?

Instagram launched vertical video app IGTV


Instagram never shies away from taking an idea and making it better. Remember the time when there were no Instagram Stories? You might, because that was a Snapchat feature. Now, Instagram is ready to go toe to toe with YouTube with their new app: IGTV.

Yesterday, IGTV was announced during an event in San Francisco. It also gave Instagram an opportunity to boast their numbers: 1 billion monthly users of which half is active enough to share a photo or video daily.

Now it’s time for these users to watch TV on the new IGTV app, by giving creators a place to create longer video content. It’s a smart move, whereas the Instagram app is mostly used to follow and watch popular users. IGTV makes it possible for these users to upload videos up to one hour in length, instead of the current one-minute limit.

IGTV works in a similar way as Youtube, where creators can create a channel and upload their videos – vertical videos that is. There’s no need for a standalone app, videos can be watched within the standard Instagram app, but the IGTV app offers more functionality for those who like to wander off more.

An example of an IGTV channel and the current Instagram interface with IGTV

I took a quick 30 minutes to run though the app and it feel like watching a combination of Snapchat stories and Instagram videos. It works quite well as you would expect from Instagram, and because it’s something you already know, it feels familiar. I can imagine people getting ‘lost’ in IGTV-videos and spending some time there.

The timing is interesting. YouTube is facing more and more criticism for strict moderation, wrongful advertising and projects like YouTube Red that don’t take off. Snapchat is also losing ground due to bad redesign and celebrities leaving the platform. The future of TV therefore is open for any of these (and more) players, and IGTV is making sure Instagram is making moves towards becoming that future. And there’s money to be made, as David Pierce also noticed.

They money thing is important in this whole story. Video and advertising go hand in hand, and, and even though Instagram claims to be “focussing on building engagement”, there will be ads on IGTV. And those will be used to let creators monetize their content, something in which YouTube is becoming more and more strict.

There will be challenges. The vertical format is a feature viewers aren’t used to, and instead of horizontal video, there’s no social component to watching vertical video. Moderation is hard when it comes to growing video content. Monetization is also hard when it comes to video content, especially with a potential creator-base that is used to making influencer deals outside of the platform.

If IGTV is going to hurt Youtube is yet to be seen, but it’s clear Instagram is making moves into their territory. And with the potential for popular users of reaching millions of their followers, my bet is the creators and Instagram will try to make it work.


Written by Pete Gabriel

Journalist and tech lover.