The competition for consumers’ time among ad-supported streaming services intensified on Wednesday when Facebook Inc’s Instagram launched a mobile app dedicated to user-generated videos of up to an hour long in length.
The service, called IGTV, plans to feature videos from rising internet celebrities and artists, some of whom have tens of millions of followers on social media.
The content creation service, which can be accessed from a button inside the Instagram homescreen, as well as be a standalone app, will spotlight popular videos from Instagram celebrities.
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Tech giants including YouTube owned by Alphabet Inc, Facebook, and Snap Inc’s Snapchat have been heavily investing in growing mobile video services in order to attract users and content creators, as well as corporate brand advertising.
At an event to announce the launch in San Francisco, IG’s Chief Executive Kevin Systrom said “Teens are now watching 40 percent less TV than they did five years ago… it’s time for a video to move forward and evolve.”
The service has channels, just like regular TV. However, this time, the creators are the channels. Once you follow a creator on Instagram, you subscribe to their IGTV channel which will show up for you to watch. You can also upload your own IGTV videos in the app or on the web to start your own channel.
In IGTV’s dedicated app or its in-Instagram experience, viewers can swipe through a variety of longer-form videos, or swipe up to visit a Browse tab of recommended videos, popular videos, creators they’re following as well as have the option to continue watching previously started videos. Users will also get notifications from the IGTV button alerting them when there’s new content.
Founded in 2010 as a photo-sharing app, Instagram has surpassed 1 billion users since Facebook bought it in 2012 for $1 billion, with added features such as messaging and short videos playing a large part in its growth. In 2016, it copied Snapchat’s popular “stories” feature giving users the ability to post slideshows that disappear in 24 hours.
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