Is Instagram Gunning For YouTube?

What is IGTV?

At the beginning of the summer Instagram launched its newest feature, IGTV. This allows users to watch long form videos within the Instagram app or alternatively watch within its standalone IGTV app.

IGTV was created with a mobile-first audience in mind where videos are full screen and vertical unlike YouTube where videos are horizontal and often played on a desktop. The TV aspect of IGTV means that it starts playing as soon as you open the app as well as having channels, like traditional TV.

The idea behind this new feature was driven by the need to connect to a younger audience, an audience which spends less time watching traditional TV and more time scrolling through social media. Will the convenience of this sort of TV consumption become the norm?

Along with this launch, Instagram also revealed that it has reached one billion monthly active users, making it the third largest social network with Facebook taking the lead and YouTube coming in second. IGTV has a built-in audience of all Instagram users which is nearly as large as YouTube, it will be interesting to see how it fairs over the next few months as it directly competes with the likes of YouTube with its new product as well as continuing to grow as a leading social platform.

How can brands make the most of IGTV?

Although Instagram launched this feature to build credibility by collaborating with influencers to attract their followers to the platform, it is without a doubt a new opportunity for brands to showcase their offering. It will be interesting to see how brands embrace the new platform and try alternative ways to reach their target audience.

For brands whose target market spends the majority of their time on Instagram, IGTV opens up a new world of content and bridges the gap between the accessibility of Instagram and providing users with more engaging content. Some of YouTube’s most popular creators are uploading videos over 30 minutes long, people are willing to spend more time-consuming quality content over shorter, less informative content. Brands have the opportunity to tell a story through IGTV as users can watch video content for up to one hour whereas on Instagram, videos are limited to one minute. Brands now have the ability to have a stronger connection with consumers by combining their Instagram activity with a taste of what makes YouTube so attractive.

The question is, will anyone watch long form brand content? I’m sure users will if it’s from brands that ooze aesthetic, the likes of Chanel or Adidas would thrive in this space. For more day to day brands I wonder is there a way of utilising IGTV without having their own brand focussed channel. Will there eventually be pre-roll like on YouTube or will we see it through product placement and influencer partnerships?


As an active Instagram user, I question why I haven’t tried out this new feature, despite it being available for a few months now. The main reason I haven’t tried IGTV is that the content I consume on Instagram differs to that of YouTube and again on traditional TV. Although for myself the transition has been slow, I think IGTV will become a new way of consuming episodic content. Since its launch, influencers have been posting TV-like content on the platform and seen strong viewership. Take for example Lily Singh, a YouTube comedian with almost 8 million Instagram followers, ran a comedy news show called “Spice News” which averaged more than 434,000 views per episode ( Viewership like this highlights the potential IGTV has to change the way TV-like content is consumed. I think the transition from YouTube to IGTV is inevitable with YouTube content creators utilising the new platform. If Instagram were to invest in original episodic content down the line, I think it most certainly will give traditional TV a run for its money.