Instagram, a Facebook, Inc. owned social networking service app for sharing photos and videos; on Wednesday extended their services by launching a mobile app called IGTV dedicated to user-generated videos up to an hour long.
Facebook, which competes with popular mobile apps such as YouTube and Snapchat, has been intensifying its focus on video content over the past several years. In 2016, Instagram launched its version of Snapchat “Stories,” which let users share ephemeral photo and video clips, annotated with stickers, GIFs and text. (Instagram’s feature now attracts more users than all of Snapchat.) And last year, Facebook created a video tab within its flagship app called “Watch,” which the company has filled in part with content that it paid studios and news partners to create.
Instagram’s bet on video was underscored on Wednesday when CEO Kevin Systrom announced the debut of its long-form video app and tab at a posh event space in San Francisco, after a live dance performance by Instagram stars. Now, creators can make videos up to an hour in length (up from 60 seconds previously) for a new standalone app called “IGTV.” These videos can also appear in an IGTV tab within Instagram’s flagship app.
The Stock Market reacted positively to the news, and this drove Facebook shares up 2.3% on Wednesday to close at $202. Why? IGTV gives Facebook new real estate on which to run mobile advertisements, the company’s key revenue engine, at a time when the company is running out of space for ads in its original news feed. While Instagram isn’t currently selling ads on IGTV, it will likely become an important new revenue stream over time and a chance to sell ads at more premium, TV-like prices.
The service plans to feature videos from rising internet celebrities, artists and pets, some of whom have tens of millions of social media followers. Instagram said it has signed up personalities such as Lele Pons, who has 25 million Instagram followers, for IGTV.
Pons said she did not plan to choose sides between two of Silicon Valley’s largest companies. “I’m still going to be posting on YouTube as well as on Instagram,” she told reporters.
Facebook on Tuesday launched a separate effort to lure video makers away from YouTube, offering ways to make money on the Facebook app. YouTube said it plans to update its commercialization options this week.
Instagram does not immediately plan to share revenue with video creators but may in the future, Systrom said. IGTV will be available as part of Instagram’s app and as a separate app, he said.