Instagram’s release of IGTV (Instagram TV) is widely seen as a direct challenge to YouTube’s long-standing dominance of the online video sector. Speaking at an Instagram event in San Francisco on Wednesday, CEO Kevin Systrom announced that their latest venture will now host longer-form video content and be available to all users, effectively enabling every Instagram user to be an Instagram long-form video content creator.
All videos on IGTV can run for as long ten minutes, ten times longer than Instagram videos, with well-known creators with huge audiences allowed to post videos up to 60 minutes in length. The driving decision behind Instagram’s support of long-form videos was repeatedly voiced at the San Francisco event — it’s trying to appeal to younger people who increasingly prefer to watch videos on mobile devices. A trend that’s seen TV viewership by younger people drop 40% in the last five years.
Along with capitalising on the growing trend for vertical video, IGTV is clearly a direct attempt to capitalise on the growing dissatisfaction among YouTube users after new monetisation guidelines that affect lesser-known content creators were recently announced. YouTube content creators now must have at least 1,000 subscribers and accrue 4,000 hours of watch time in 12 months to join YouTube’s Partner Program and qualify for monetisation rights.
The new guidelines mean there’s less competition among creators seeking to monetise content, creating an opportunity for a competitor to meet the needs of smaller or lesser-known content creators seeking to earn a living through the content they produce. And who better placed to meet those needs than Instagram?
Instagram hasn’t offered any insights into how it will pay creators for their content contributions, but the Facebook-owned company is ideally positioned to compete with YouTube, especially now it’s reached the billion user milestone. And while IGTV is currently advertisement-free, it’s a certainty that ads are coming.
“Right now we’re focused on building engagement, and there are no ads in IGTV in day one,” Systrom said after the event, “But that is a very reasonable place to end up. There will obviously be a way for creators to make a living since they spend their lives doing this.”
YouTube may have made significant changes to its Partner Program and how content creators qualify for monetisation rights but it’s still paying its creators for their content contributions. This is something Instagram must to do if it is to, as Systrom says, “Give video a better home on mobile”, and effectively compete with YouTube — the premiere online destination for digital-first content creators as well as mainstream television and music content.
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