Instagram: becoming the TV of mobile?

Instagram: becoming the TV of mobile?

I read an interesting line the other day: the regular Instagram feed is getting boring as everybody is playing with video on the platform.

The observation is down to two IG launches in the past two weeks – IGTV and music on Instagram Stories. The Facebook owned site is stepping up its tussle with YouTube.

From allowing film of only up to one minute, IGTV is a separate app that allows video play of up to one hour. ONE HOUR! That’s an awful lot of rubbish heading our way.

Early postings are largely that. But you can see that some big brands are already going big: Real Madrid posted a six-minute ‘Thank you to Christiano Ronaldo’ video which had 710k views in the first 14 hours.

Some old video has been repurposed; Madonna’s Back to the Future video (16 mins) had 89k views within a day.

There’s a lot of attention: I created a channel for @VisitShaftesbury (513 followers on IG) and filmed it’s FB page scrolling – it had its first view on IGTV within nine minutes!

Teen fashion and make-up, music and dance figure highly and do well: I didn’t see much evidence of travel content, although influencer @budgettraveller has posted two videos from Holland and Germany, gaining respectable views in the hundreds.

You can choose to watch videos from those you follow, or popular and suggested content. You can also access IGTV from a button at the top of your IG page.

“YouTube may always have a wider breadth of content, but through curation of creators and publishers’ video content, Instagram could become the reliable place to watch something great on the small screen,” says a report on Techcrunch, saying IG could become the ‘TV of mobile.’

IG followed up the launch just a week later by announcing the option of adding music to IG Stories. A billion people use IG, and 400m of them use IG Stories.

Facebook has struck deals with several record labels to licence music, so that you can add Ed Sheeran or Guns N’ Roses to your video (as a side issue, FB is no longer aggressively taking down posts with suspected music copyright infringements).

A good explanation of how to use the new facility is posted on which points out that, initially, it is only available in six countries including the UK and US. It’s also only for iOS at present.

“One of the smartest things Instagram ever did was roll out IG Stories, the idea for which was essentially lifted from Snapchat,” comments Yoni Heisler on

And it hasn’t stopped since: apart from the two developments, in the same week IG also launched video chat in which up to four people can connect on IG.

These are big steps in turning teens entirely away from TV and onto mobile video, with advertising undoubtedly to be introduced on IGTV – money that previously went to traditional TV, or YouTube.

In a news report in The Guardian, the Pew Research Centre says that 72% of US kids aged 13-17 now use Instagram, second to YouTube at 85%.

Another stat helps explains Facebook’s accelerated development of Instagram: only 51% of people in that group now use FB, down from 71% from a similar Pew survey in 2014-15.

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Steve Keenan has been a travel journalist for 25 years. He started at a Reed paper, news editing at Travel News in London - now Travel Weekly - having spent a decade reporting general news in the UK and abroad. He also taught English in Peru, delivered cars in the USA, ran the Sydney desk at AAP and took the train home from Hong Kong. He left Travel News in 1990 to freelance for several publications, including The Times of London, which he later joined as deputy travel editor. In December 2004, he became the first national digital travel editor in the UK, running the combined travel website of The Times and Sunday Times. The introduction of a paywall at the papers in 2010 persuaded him that the connected world might continue outside of Wapping and he left to co-found Travel Perspective. The company runs the social media seminars at World Travel Market London, and works with Reed Expos and others in helping the travel and tourism industry best communicate stories in all forms of publishing.

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