Instagram is finally letting users download Reels posted by others so they can share them outside the app. Rival short video app TikTok has had this feature for years and gained popularity by people watching short videos with the app’s watermark outside the platform.
On Tuesday, the company’s head Adam Mosseri said on his Instagram broadcast channel that U.S.-based users will be able to download Reels to their camera roll. Users can do this by tapping on the share icon and then selecting the Download option.
Mosseri noted that Reels from only public accounts are eligible for download. Plus, public accounts can turn off the ability to download Reels.
While Mosseri didn’t specify if there will be a watermark on the downloaded Reel, the picture posted by him indicates that the downloaded video will show an Instagram logo along with the account name. TikTok uses a similar format to attach a watermark on downloaded videos. Notably, Instagram has always allowed users to download their own Reels without a watermark from drafts.
In 2021, Instagram stopped promoting content with a TikTok watermark (or any watermark) on videos. Last August, YouTube started including a logo-based watermark on downloaded Shorts — the company’s short video product — to discourage cross-platform sharing. So this move by Instagram to let users download Reels could be a tactic to attract people to watch more content on the platform.
Reels has been the point of focus to drive growth and revenue for Meta in the last few quarters. During its Q1 2023 earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg said time spent on Instagram grew by 24% thanks to AI-powered Reels recommendations.