My first impression of IGTV

In the last few days, Instagram brought out a new feature, or app, or both, depending how you look at it, and these are my thoughts after spending some time with it.

I’m referring to IGTV, also known as Instagram TV.

IGTV, in a nutshell, means longer Stories that don’t archive. Vertical videos of up to ten minutes in length, or an hour in some cases, are hosted on the new side of Instagram. There are no in-app edits, no filters, no layers of text, just vertical video uploaded straight from your phone’s camera roll.

The feature is accessible through the existing Instagram app, but also just as accessible through the new IGTV app. There doesn’t appear to be any difference between the level of access to IGTV between the new app and the add-on, but I imagine this will change in the future as IGTV develops.

Consumers on Instagram will have noticed a new icon at the top of their main feed, which will take them directly to IGTV content they’re most likely to want to watch. Interestingly, nothing I was even remotely interested in came up on my “For You” tab, but the search bar was pretty useful in finding something to watch.

And ironically, the video I found was a horizontal 16:9 video squashed into vertical frame.

A 16:9 video squashed into a vertical frame. Image: IGTV/real1

It wasn’t long before I was offered the chance to create my own channel; I’m not sure I’d ever use IGTV from a personal point of view, but it’s there. I’m not even sure what the difference is between a channel and the standard Instagram account, because, it seems to be that absolutely anybody with an Instagram account can create an IGTV channel. But now I have both.

From a creator point of view, the idea is that you already have your finished vertical video ready to share as there are no options to edit, or add text layers or filters within the app. You can add a title, and a description (which allows URL links!), and off you go. But like an Instagram Story, that’s it. It’s published. There is no edit button.

I’ve already experienced the embarrassment of publishing a video with a subtle typo in the description of a video, and had to delete it and start all over again.

Image: Instagram

For IGTV to be taken seriously in the long term, I’d expect a title and description edit button to become available – just as you’d find on the Instagram app when uploading video posts to the timeline.

I am also interested by the idea of grouping different videos together; whether it be in similar fashion to Stories or playlists on YouTube.

While I am not excited by the new feature as many are, I can see where it has room to grow.

For me, the experience feels too clunky and disorganised for it to be taken seriously. While monetisation is already in the pipelines, the fact that it wasn’t implemented on release is also frustrating.

And finally, something I only noticed on the bus home from work, was the autoplay. The app will automatically start streaming video on opening. For anybody with a small data package, this is going to be problematic.

So once these issues are ironed out, then I think we’ll start to see whether IGTV really will take off.

For now though, eh.