Instagram head Adam Mosseri recently said it was “no longer a photo-sharing app,” noting the company was prioritizing a shift into video amid significant competition from TikTok and YouTube. Today, Instagram is taking another step toward its larger goal of making video a more central part of the Instagram experience with news that it will now combine IGTV’s long-form video and Instagram Feed videos into a new format called simply “Instagram Video.”
These videos, both longer and shorter, will be found on users’ profiles in a new “Video” tab.
Meanwhile, when people encounter videos on Instagram, they’ll be able to tap anywhere on the video to enter into a fullscreen viewing mode. After watching, they can then choose to keep scrolling to discover more video content from creators or tap the back button to exit.
None of these changes will impact what Instagram is doing with Reels, though. The company’s short-form video platform and TikTok rival will continue to remain separate, we’re told. They won’t be mixed into this feed of videos, if users choose to scroll.
IGTV was already losing ground as a standalone product and brand ahead of this change. In early 2020, Instagram dropped the orange IGTV button from Instagram’s home page due to lack of traction. The move came at a time when, at most, just 7 million of Instagram’s 1-billion-plus users had downloaded the standalone IGTV app, TechCrunch previously reported, citing Sensor Tower research. As of August 31, 2021, the firm estimates the app saw 18 million installs globally across the App Store and Google Play.
Instagram had explained its decision to pull out the button by saying that most Instagram users were finding IGTV content through the previews shared to the Feed and in Explore. But the reality was that IGTV as a standalone product was largely leading to clutter and confusion in the flagship app, critics and creators argued, while failing to drive a large number of downloads to the standalone IGTV app.
The IGTV app, however, isn’t going away. Instagram tells us it will now be rebranded as “Instagram Video” and will host the “Instagram Video” formatted content, along with Instagram Live videos. But it will not host Reels videos.
With today’s update, users will still be able to upload their non-Reels videos in the same way as before — by clicking on the plus sign (+) in the top-right corner of the Instagram home page and selecting “Post.” Videos can be up to 60 minutes in length.
Instagram is also adding new features like trimming, filters, and people and location tagging as part of the updated upload experience.
Longer videos, which would have previously been identified as IGTV videos, will show 60-second previews in the Feed, as they did before. However, if the video is eligible for ads, the preview will still be 15 seconds, also as before.
Obviously, “IGTV Ads” will no longer be called this, with today’s changes. Instead, they’ll be called “In-Stream video ads.” Creators can continue to monetize their long-form videos and brands can use the format, as well. And the videos will still be a part of Instagram’s revenue-sharing tests with creators — again, as before. (But if businesses want to boost their videos to reach more people, they’ll need to be no longer than 60 seconds long, Instagram notes.)
Creators will also continue to be able to cross-post their videos through Stories and share through Direct Messages, says Instagram.
Instagram’s goal with these changes will be a more streamlined video experience. However, by keeping Reels separate, the app will still differentiate videos by length. But this is similar to how YouTube is addressing the TikTok threat. Its TikTok competitor, known as YouTube Shorts, has its own dedicated button in the YouTube app, just like Instagram Reels does.
Instagram says the changes are rolling out globally starting today across both iOS and Android.
Updated 10/5/21, 2:10 p.m. EDT with additional estimates from Sensor Tower.