Could social media be a new TV platform?

Instagram launched a new standalone video platform to compete with YouTube. This new feature is a way for users to film and watch longform videos without leaving the app. The videos can be up to an hour long, in comparison to the previous 60-second video feature on Instagram.  

The issue with a 60-second limit: Users would post a video to their “Instagram story” and then a link to a follow-up, longer video, on YouTube. The new Instagram TV removes YouTube from the equation, keeping the whole video on Instagram. Realistically, no need to ever leave.

The longform video will take up the entire screen of your phone, and will eventually get its own app called IGTV. The Instagram algorithm will pair you with videos you might like, videos that are popular, and videos from creators you follow. Once you reach at least 10,000 followers, Instagram allows you to post videos up to 60 minutes in length. If you are an average Instagram user with less than 10,000 followers, you can post videos up to 10 minutes.  

In the past few years, social media platforms have become increasingly complex, transitioning from just a place to socialize to news and media platforms. Instagram’s recent direction has taken aim at fellow social media platform, Snapchat. When Instagram created the “stories” feature and soon after the “story highlights” feature, competition between the two rose. The new IGTV launch will put Snapchat’s video focused discover page at even more risk.

But, the main competitor this launch targets is YouTube. As the dominant video platform, YouTube has yet to face much competition since Google purchased it in 2006. There is really no other platform just quite like it. If YouTube content creators shift to Instagram, YouTube might lose its dominance, similar to how Vine’s decline was marked by content creators shifting to YouTube.

This new launch will be a test to see how social features integrate with a video platform. YouTube tried to implement social features in the past, most notably the failed Google+ integration, but they are at the very core of IGTV. As Instagram remains a popular social media platform, will longform videos be as engaging as the shorter posts for which Instagram is known?