Instagram adds TV feature after reaching 1 billion users

Instagram has launched IGTV at an event in San Francisco featuring numerous Instagram creators.

Instagram Co-Founder and CEO, Kevin Systrom said that the social network has grown to accommodate one billion users since its inception in 2010.

IGTV's programming format will consist exclusively of vertical video created to fill the entire screen of smartphones - the devices that are emerging as the main way younger people watch video. The photo-sharing app, which Facebook acquired in 2012 for US$715 million, also has an audience that skews younger, and is used to watching video on mobile devices. Here, the channels refer to the creators themselves. IGTV content will also be available in the Instagram app. IGTV videos will be able to go beyond the 60-second limit placed on videos uploaded on Instagram today.

For starters, while it's possible to upload videos to IGTV from your computer, it's apparently only possible to watch videos from within the app. For now, if you want to check the app out, you can download it via the app widget below or from APK Mirror. The difference between Instagram and IGTV, however, is that the latter pushes vertical videos only and can last up to an hour.

Systrom further explains, "Also like TV, IGTV has channels".

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This new feature will put Instagram in direct competition with YouTube and will no doubt help the social app to lure over all those original content creators. Systrom told Engadget that, based on how people use Instagram today (for a couple minutes at a time), giving them access to longer-form video needed "different context".

Once you open the IGTV app, content from individuals that you follow will automatically begin playing.

According to the research firm eMarketer, 181.7 million Americans will watch video content on their smartphones at least once a month this year, up 6.1 percent from a year ago.

This new app is set to take YouTube heads-on. But it's also an obvious effort on Instagram's part to compete with YouTube and its army of influencers.

YouTuber "Elly Awesome," who has more than 285,000 subscribers on the site, said not being able to make money on IGTV isn't a dealbreaker. "Instagram is in a position of strength and this is both an offensive and defensive strategic move for them".

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