Instagram hits one billion user mark and promises long video feature

In a highly produced "show" in San Francisco, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom announced Wednesday that the company is launching a long-form video platform aimed at luring the kinds of online celebrity "creators" and fans who have long flocked to YouTube.

Instagram boasts that IGTV will feature videos from creators like Lele Pons, former Vine star King Bach, and Fortnite streamer Ninja, but like YouTube, it'll also allow for anyone to post videos.

Instagram today announces that it will soon be rolling out IGTV, a new app specifically designed for watching long-form, vertical videos from your favorite Instagram creators. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said IGTV is created to make it easier to find and watch videos on your smartphone, and the company added a few tricks YouTube doesn't have. Systrom said Wednesday that Instagram now has 1 billion monthly users, and the Pew Research Center recently reported that 72% of U.S. teenagers say they use Instagram.

To start, there will be a cap on the videos: 10 minutes for most users, and an hour for certain accounts with more followers. Dubbed IGTV, it is expected to roll out in coming weeks. 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. Instead, everyone on the platform will be able to make use of IGTV to view and make vertical videos.

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

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"Right now we're focused on building engagement, and there are no ads on IGTV from Day One", Systrom said. Once you post a video, you can also post it to Facebook simultaneously.

From there, users can swipe up in the app to find more content and can select from a series of tabs, including "For You, ' 'Following, ' 'Popular" and 'Continue Watching'.

IGTV is clearly meant to eventually become a true competitor for YouTube but as is always the case, we will just have to see how things pan out. With the launch of IGTV, the company essentially wants to make its platform the go-to for entertainment - Instagram already has a huge amount of content for users, ranging from Stories, Live videos, to the classic photos and videos. At a press conference after the announcement, Systrom said Instagram has no plans to produce content itself.

Instagram today is finally taking on YouTube and Snapchat's Discover with a dedicated app - IGTV. It's not the first time Instagram has copied Snapchat. It has added around 200 million users each year for the past two years.

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