Photo Credit: shutterstock
Just as Facebook embraced TV with its new Facebook Watch offering, it now looks like Instagram is also embracing TV with its brand-new IGTV offering. IGTV, of course, stands for “Instagram TV,” and some analysts are already touting it as “the future of TV.”
What is IGTV?
So what is IGTV and why does it matter? First of all, IGTV is a stand-alone extension of the Instagram platform, and not a new feature for Instagram. The easiest way to think about IGTV is that it will be the place to go to watch long-form content (defined as content between 10 minutes and 1 hour in length) from some of the web’s top creators. One brand that is getting the most hype for IGTV is National Geographic, which also turns out to be the #1 brand on Instagram. So, an example of content you might expect to see on IGTV is a Nat Geo one-hour special that you’d watch on your mobile device.
The biggest point of differentiation for IGTV is that it will exclusively feature vertical video (at least at the outset). In other words, IGTV is going to require a new approach to watching video content. You may be used to watching video clips taken from your friends on your smartphone in vertical orientation, but who doesn’t immediately flip their phone to a horizontal orientation as soon as “real” video content is available?
How brands can use IGTV
But IGTV is betting big that there’s a real market for long-form vertical video content. And that’s what makes IGTV such a potential game-changer for brands. Imagine being able to upload video content from your smartphone and having a waiting and willing audience to consume that content, all without having to play around with re-formatting the video for TV.
In its 1-minute teaser video for IGTV, Instagram hinted at a number of different examples of content that would be featured on the platform, including “Are You Seeing This TV” (for crazy, unbelievable action scenes you capture on your phone), “You Better Post That TV” (for an action-packed scene that you want to share from your own life), “Looooonger TV” (for a long show, not just a clip), “24/7 Me TV” (for influencers) and “Oh &*!?$ TV” (for really crazy stuff you just happen to catch on your phone).
Is monetization coming later for IGTV?
Right now, Instagram hasn’t indicated how or when any of this content will be monetized. But it’s almost inevitable that IGTV is eventually going to put some its content behind a paywall of some kind. Some analysts have hinted at a pure subscription model, in which you pay for the branded TV content you like. Other analysts have hinted at more of a Netflix model (pay one fee each month and binge as much as you want) or a YouTube Red model (pay to access the very best premium content without ads).
So if there’s a monetization angle involved here, it’s natural that brands might be excited about it. At the outset, only the premium content creators with lots of followings will be able to create 1-hour shows, with everyone else relegated to 10-minute clips. But it’s easy to see how many people would probably tune in to watch a 10-minute show featuring an interesting, up-and-coming brand. If you’re tired of your video content getting lost in the Facebook newsfeed, you now have another alternative: IGTV.