When Instagram introduced Instagram TV back in June 2018, the Internet shook. If you too found a little TV icon next to your messages icon, you probably clicked on it. You know what I’m talking about … suddenly, you were watching video content on Instagram.
For those of you who don’t, IGTV is a standalone, vertical video app Instagram recently launched. Anybody can create a channel and upload video content up to 10 minutes of length for all Instagram users to watch. A verified user can upload up to 60 minutes of video content.
Keep in mind: This is the first platform that only supports vertical video content that is longer than a few minutes.
Now, YouTube, as we know, is the top video-sharing website Google owns. YouTube has been at the top for over a decade now. With IGTV coming in the picture, video content creators on YT are wondering whether this means the death of YT, or if they have to make the jump from horizontal videos to a vertical format. But will IGTV actually kill YouTube? Or will they, in fact, help each other?
Wondering how this article might help?
Well, if you’re a marketer, an influencer, business owner, or simply an enthusiast, then this article will help you analyze where the strength of each platform lies. This will help you to make a well-informed decision before diving in deep with any single one of these platforms.
To come to a conclusion, we need to take a couple of things into consideration.
First, let’s take a trip down memory lane.
A few years ago, an app called Periscope came out, introducing the feature of live video content. Marked as a potential competitor to YouTube it was bought by Twitter and is now a very small platform. It operates in its own niche, not obstructing YT in any way.
After this came Vine, a popular short video-sharing app that gave users the freedom to upload and share video content. This allowed content creators to grow. Yet another competitor to YouTube, but it crumbled because its makers couldn’t stabilize it financially. Viners who made it big on the platform switched to the video giant in no time by adapting their content to youtube. It didn’t take long for their audience to follow them.
Vimeo came next. It still exists and one could call it YT’s competitor. But it doesn’t have nearly as many eyeballs as YouTube does, with over one billion hours of video content being watched on YouTube every single day.
Even Facebook tried to get into the game, with its new video sharing feature. A study found that 90% of the video content circling around on FB has been in fact stolen from YouTube.
And here’s where every single of these video-sharing platforms went wrong. YouTube provides the most viewership, the highest engagement rate, and a brilliantly organized monetization to its creators. Every website maker wanted that piece of YouTube pie, but they simply couldn’t compete with this giant.
Now, this might make you think that IGTV too might perish soon, given the history of other similar apps.
Truth is, it’s too soon to say.
In my opinion, IGTV is one true competitor to YouTube. Since Instagram introduced it as an inbuilt feature in the app, it already has the viewership. In its first month alone it got about one billion viewers.
The videos uploaded are shorter, and constantly streaming, thus the engagement rate (views: like ratio) is higher than what you might get on youtube in some cases. Content creators and users can upload video content with ease, and while currently no ads feature on IGTV and there isn’t any proper monetization, Instagram plans to change that soon.
This means that it has got all the criteria required to be YouTube’s competitor, which the other video-sharing platforms failed to achieve. Let us break this competition down further and analyze some key features of both platforms.
Now, IGTV has real potential, as I mentioned previously, it rolled over a billion eyeballs in just its first month of operation. It comes as an extension to the most used social media platform on the planet, with the highest engagement rates.
As we deduced earlier, the secret sauce for the success of any social media platform, is that creators are being given utmost importance. And IGTV has kept this in mind, allowing content creators to flourish. Yes, for seasoned video makers, the vertical video aspect might take some time getting used to. Although for a platform that is predominantly vertical in its format, could be the best place for mass adoption of this new form of video.
People use their phones vertically, and features like Live Story, or just Stories are basically shot vertically, making it very convenient for the viewer. The vertical video feature of IGTV has made this a smooth transition, also allowing newer creators out there to create content using just their smartphones instead of fancy camera equipment.
Hence this creates a lower barrier to entry for creators, compared to the relatively production-heavy demands of the youtube platform.
And lastly, to put it crudely, Instagram works like the mafia.
On the other hand, Instagram is opened multiple times a day, often two-three times in just an hour, thus, IGTV has an added layer of session time. Another key feature is that it is pretty natural to use for the user. One can click on the IGTV icon; watch a couple of videos and simply transition back to the Instagram feed.
Analytics wise, IGTV is up to standard. If a creator uploads a video today, he has access to even the audience retention rate the very next day. For a content creator, this is just another platform for uploading content. Therefore, IGTV can be considered an up-to-par video-sharing platform that caters to both creators’ and viewers’ needs.
However, there are a few downsides one must look at.
Videos on IGTV have a far lower engagement rate compared to a video on Instagram as a post. Yes, we know that these videos are longer in duration, but speaking from the creator’s perspective, IGTV isn’t rewarding creators for taking the added steps that come with creating vertical content for their platform.
Furthermore, YouTube is a pretty well-established platform. It has about 1.9 million daily active users and dominates the wide-screen video category. All Smart TVs come with YouTube preinstalled in them, and horizontal viewership still dominates the field. Hence it might need more than just an app launch to get people to change their video consumption habits.
Let’s talk about YouTube not just as a social platform, but also as a business platform. Most people forget that YouTube is not just a video-sharing website, it is also a search engine. Owned by Google, the world’s number one multibillion-dollar search engine, YouTube is like the video Wikipedia.
Youtube’s philosophy is to give you what you’re looking for. If you’re in the mood to watch cats dressed as superheroes, you will get exactly that. IGTV, or in fact any Facebook-owned content platform doesn’t work this way. It works more like traditional TV, where the people and brands you follow are like TV channels, and what you wish to see is out of your control. This is another reason why educational content works so well on youtube but falls flat on Instagram.
There are more than 400 hours of content being uploaded every minute, each being organized into distinct categories, making the search feature of YouTube unbeatable.
The words ‘YouTube’ and ‘Google’ as verbs have become part of our daily vocabulary. If one needs to find the answer to a question, one will go to Google or YouTube to find the answer, certainly not Facebook or Instagram. With an archive of millions and millions of videos on every topic imaginable, we simply tell a friend to ‘YouTube’ it or to ‘Google’ it. These are things that made youtube phenomenal in the first place.
From a business point of view, this is very important to a content creator. In terms of information provided and the killer search engine features, IGTV simply cannot compete, at least anywhere in the near future. It could offer these services one day, but it has still got a long way to go.
So this brings up to our original question, can IGTV kill YouTube, or take away a chunk of it’s market share?
Most certainly not.
IGTV simply doesn’t have the power to destroy YouTube. One must realize that YouTube has gotten to that point of the game where ‘youtubing’ something is part of our daily vocabulary. Thus, from a business platform point of view, at the moment, YouTube dominates the field. However, as a social platform, we still cannot discount IGTV’s potential. As we are still to see what kind of content becomes native to the platform in the coming year or two.
So what does this mean for a content creator? What should he turn to, YouTube or IGTV?
In the words of Marques Brownlee, a famous YouTuber with over 5 million subscribers on YouTube, “you cannot keep all your eggs in one basket.” From a content creator’s point of view, IGTV is just providing one additional platform for his content. This means that the creator has the opportunity to create more content. In my opinion, YouTube and IGTV healthy competition, because each has featured the other doesn’t have, and each has a niche area which it excels at.
If you’re a content creator answering people’s questions, they will come to your YouTube channel, not IGTV. If you’re simply somebody who’s already somewhat established on Instagram, then IGTV is worth putting your eggs in, as IGTV is overall more integrated with the instagram platform. And since IGTV is still to mature, starting with the foundation of an instagram account can devinetly give you the first mover advantage.
On the other hand, for a creator just starting off with no money to invest, YouTube would be a better option since the kind of content they upload really matters there. But IGTV can surely offer you a niche if you think your content works better on the vertical format.
Keep in mind, there are a few pitfalls one must be vary of.
With a huge variety of social media platforms to choose from, it is common for a creator to get overwhelmed with options and become “jack of all trades, master of none.” The dangers of spreading out thin are too high since creators usually upload the same content on all their social media platforms.
In such a scenario, the creator would neither do well on YouTube nor on IGTV.
Successful content creators are present on all social media platforms; they are active on every single one of them, yet you will find that they dominate just one platform out of all. Jenna Marbles, a famous content creator has YouTube as her dominant platform, yet she is actively present on Twitter, Twitch and so on.
As a viewer, both YouTube and IGTV have their own features that help them decide. YouTube viewers prefer longer, informative videos while IGTV list another mode of short-term entertainment like the Stories feature.
IGTV v/s YouTube is, in fact, one of the healthier social media competitions out there. Neither showing signs of dying out anytime soon! Both can co-exist beautifully. The user just has to choose based on his/her specifications.
For more articles similar to this one, check out the IIDE blog.