Why IGTV is the new TV

With bite-sized videos in increasing demand, Instagram is making a bold move into mobile-only video content

Thomas SerreContent Assistant

A mutating Instagram

Is Instagram becoming the television for the mobile generation? As networking hardware company Cisco predicts that by 2021, mobile video will account for 78 per cent of total mobile data traffic, Instagram releases IGTV, a novel video-sharing platform that’s been solely built for mobile viewing, with vertical-only content in an aspect ratio of 9:16. It seems that the Facebook-owned company, with more than one billion accounts around the globe, is aiming to become the next big thing in the world of video content, challenging YouTube’s dominance with a fresh look at format and versatility.

If you’re an avid user of Instagram, routinely scrolling, swiping and liking, you’ve probably noticed myriad new features appearing during the past few months. Enhanced Instagram stories with new stickers, a revised Discover section, group video, hashtag following… you name it. Across the social-media spectrum, Instagram is still the defending champion when it comes to engagement rate. Such an active audience comes to expect constant innovation from its favourite tech platform.

A new app for watching long form

With more than 400 million daily active users, Instagram took the plunge by releasing the standalone video app last June. By synching the two apps together, IGTV will display long-form content from your favourite brands, influencers or even friends you already follow on Instagram.

Whether your taste is British Vogue, Manchester City FC or Jamie Oliver’s cookery channel on Instagram, all their long-form video content is being showcased on the new IGTV feed. For now, IGTV videos can be up to 10 minutes long, and larger accounts can post videos of up to one hour. This has been praised as a big improvement on the current 60 seconds limit on Instagram — where it’s still impossible to pause or fast-forward on a video. Plus, much like when you first turn on your TV, as soon as you open the IGTV app, a video will automatically start playing.

Instagram co-founder, Kevin Systrom made the comparison very clear on Instagram’s blog: “Like TV, IGTV has channels. But, in IGTV, the creators are the channels. Anyone can be a creator.”

Could this be the perfect time?

A few years ago, no one would have thought – or craved – to watch a 15-minute video on their phone, let alone on Instagram. Nowadays, as online video platform Ooyala revealed, 60% of all video plays come from mobile devices and demand for portable video content is rocketing. Consumers are finally eager and accustomed to stream beauty tutorials or short documentaries on their daily commute, following the boom of bite-sized videos on Facebook and Snapchat.

Vertical videos have changed the way we create and consume content, increasing the amount of screen-time spent on our mobile phones and tablets. State-of-the-art smartphones, superfast 4G networks and improved public wi-fi are undeniably helping the content and streaming offerings to grow faster than ever. Is today the perfect time to take advantage of IGTV? In short, yes. But while putting out videos is one thing, it is another to create content that captivates and connects with your existing audience.

Follow Sunday on Instagram here.