IGTV is Instagram’s answer to YouTube

IGTV is Instagram’s answer to YouTube
Credit: Instagram

Instagram is making a play for YouTube’s video throne with the launch of IGTV, a new app where users can upload videos longer than one minute.

The app, revealed at an event today by Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, hosts videos up to one hour in length. Anyone can upload videos, either from the dedicated app or from Instagram itself. Everything is mobile-oriented, meaning videos are in portrait mode. Rumors about it have been passed along for weeks, culminating in a report from the Wall Street Journal which revealed the proposed length.

From what Instagram has shown so far, the service looks like a fun addition to Instagram’s existing video tools. My favorite part is you have a scrub bar on videos now, meaning you don’t just have to start every video at the beginning and wait for it to loop if you miss the part you wanted to see — which is how Instagram videos currently work.

The app definitely holds some appealing new tools for Instagrammers who want to make longer videos. First, despite the fact Instagram is launching a dedicated app for videos, anyone who doesn’t want to download it can still watch them from the main Instagram app — promo pics suggest a button at the top of the app will allow them to access IGTV content.

This means you can use the IGTV service without either alienating an IG-centric audience or being alienated yourself. Videos can be accessed from your profile via a button next to Stories Highlights.

Second, it’s integrated fairly smoothly with other IG features — you’ll be able to use stickers and filters, as well as share videos via messages. You’ll even be able to share IGTV videos to a Facebook page and, presumably, profiles.

If Instagram’s trying to take a chunk out of YouTube’s near-monopoly on video, it’s starting from a strong place. Instagram has a dedicated audience, quite a few of them teenagers. A recent Pew study found the number of teens who used Instagram was almost as high as those who used YouTube (72 and 85 percent, respectively). The same study found that 95 percent of teens have access to a smartphone, and 45 percent are online “almost constantly,” so their support matters.

Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, has also been making a concerted effort to bolster its video, including adding new ways for creators to monetize videos and for audiences to (literally) play along. The difference between its new features and Instagram is there’s a chance the latter could actually succeed in making a dent in YouTube’s cornerstone.

Still, this new platform won’t quite have the flexibility of YouTube — for example, while one hour would be more than sufficient for most content creators, it’s not exactly YouTube’s generous maximum time of 12 hours. Also, vertically-oriented video will take time for everyone to get used to — both ‘Grammers used to filming in landscape, and viewers used to turning their phones on their sides to watch everything from YouTube to Netflix.

According to Systrom, the app will be rolling out to everyone in the next few weeks.

Read next: Sorry Instagram, I don't want a vertical YouTube