In a world where YouTube has become the primary platform for video distribution and media streaming, one social media platform took a stand against the great red play button: Instagram. While Vimeo has become the professional standard for video hosting, and Twitch the gamer’s streaming paradise, Instagram has launched a new platform that will challenge YouTube directly. Last month, Instagram unveiled its latest feature: IGTV, its own video storing and sharing platform. Just like Youtube, except that it’s really, really not.
IGTV is basically like an Instagram story, but designed for longer-form video. The maximum video length is 60 minutes, with the minimum falling at 15 seconds. (This isn’t Vine anymore, kids.)
In essence, IGTV is vertical video, designed for your phone. It’s like the sleek trendy cousin of YouTube, and it might just give the established video platform a run for its money—literally.
But before we get too excited, let’s look at some pros and cons of the two video platforms.
1. Monetized Content
Perhaps the greatest advantage YouTube has over the young upstart is the fact that YouTube pays its biggest creators, and IGTV so far has not offered a way to pay its creators for their longer running videos. And content-makers agree, if there’s no way to monetize their content, it’s a lot less likely to attract attention. These young internet influencers are professionals, after all, and if there’s no financial incentive for creating good content, they will take their creative work elsewhere. That said, it won’t stay this way forever.
An IG spokesperson told Recode. “After launch, we’ll be exploring and testing ways to help creators monetize.”
So while IGTV remains behind momentarily, we’ll see how long that lasts.
2. Custom channels
Much like YouTube, IGTV will offer individual channels for each creator, where long-form video can be added, tagged, and stored, with no worries of content disappearing like IG stories. You can switch between “For You,” “Following,” “Popular” and “Continue Watching”, as well as sync your IG account and automatically follow channels from everyone you already follow on IG. This is also a step up for users new to the platform, as with YouTube, your custom channels are fairly random until you’ve watched enough content for the algorithm to predict what you like. But if you already have an IG account, IGTV already knows exactly the kind of content you want to see.
Instagram has long capitalized on its nature as a “distraction” app. YouTube’s content often requires some sort of engagement, whether that’s wearing headphones, turning your screen horizontally, or simply just maintaining your unbroken attention while the app takes over your screen. On the other hand, everyone is on IG, Twitter, or Facebook while they’re stuck doing something else: standing in line at the grocery store, waiting for Uber, or only halfway-listening to a professor. Vertical video lends itself well to this sort of casual viewing that occurs with less intentionality than YouTube often requires.
What does this new format mean for the creators themselves? As far as production goes, many young social media influencers have begun to forge this new style of filmmaking already. It’s gritty, unpolished, and often charmingly real in a way many people find engaging. Gone are the days of Hollywood glamor, audiences are now much more interested in seeing someone just like themselves on screen, acne, giggles, and misspeaking included.
5. Camera work
Vertical video will perhaps pose the greatest challenge for creators used to the horizontal style of filming. The frame is smaller across, and there’s not a lot that can happen across the screen at one time.
Hot Dog Marketing’s multimedia producer Neil noted about the change, “it will be an interesting challenge for producers to adjust their thinking to a vertical aspect ratio… A lot of people will have to re-visualize.”
Dialogues can prove challenging without the proper editing, and all video must be shot and edited differently for IGTV.
With all these changes in how video is shot, edited, and presented to the audience, it will be fascinating to see how the world catches on to this new medium. Already content creators around the world have jumped on board and are filling IGTV with video of well, everything. From NASA to the food network, makeup artists to workout gurus, everyone is trying it out.
Instagram’s founder Kevin Systrom said, “Video deserves a better home on mobile”— do you think IGTV will become that home?
Abigail is a writer and editor with a focus on integrative storytelling in all its ever-evolving forms. Her creative background ranges from explorative fiction and observational travel blogging, to web content and film reviews, to scripts for stage and screen. Her work has appeared at Rusty Scythe Publishing, The Modern Cultural Reject, and Houston Baptist University.