Facebook's Instagram on Wednasday announced IGT, which will increase Instagram's video time limit from one minute to 10 minutes for most users. Accounts with large audiences will be able to distribute programs lasting up to an hour.
Video will be available through Instagram or a new app called IGTV. It will give Facebook more opportunities to sell advertising.
Just like turning on the TV, IGTV starts playing as soon as you open the app. You don't have to search to start watching content from people you already follow on Instagram and others you might like based on your interests. You can swipe up to discover more - switch between "For You," "Following," "Popular" and "Continue Watching." You can also like, comment and send videos to friends in Direct.
Also like TV, IGTV has channels. But, in IGTV, the creators are the channels. When you follow a creator on Instagram, their IGTV channel will show up for you to watch. Anyone can be a creator - you can upload your own IGTV videos in the app or on the web to start your own channel.
The announcement, which Iwas made in San Francisco by Kevin Systrom, CEO and co-founder of Instagram, is part of Instagram's efforts to preserve its status as a cool place for young people to share and view content. Instagram is obviously mimicking Google's YouTube. Before, Facebook and Instagram have copied Snapchat.
Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom hopes IGTV will emerge as a hub of creativity for relative unknowns who turn into internet sensations with fervent followings among teens and young adults.
That is what's already happening on YouTube, which has become the world's most popular video outlet since Google bought it for $1.76 billion nearly 12 years ago. It now boasts 1.8 billion users.
Instagram, which Facebook bought for $1 billion six years ago, recently crossed 1 billion users, up from 800 million users nine months ago.
Longer clips are more conducive for video ads lasting from 30 seconds to one minute. Instagram doesn't currently allow video ads, at least for now.
IGTV's programming format will consist exclusively of vertical video designed to fill the entire screen of smartphones. By contrast, most YouTube videos fill only a portion of the screen unless the phone is tilted horizontally.
Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat have been spending heavily to grow mobile video services that will attract both users and corporate brand advertising.
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.