IGTV Abandoned its Vertical Video Requirement, but Will It Matter?
Say goodbye to those ugly cropped videos in IGTV.
In the hopes of drawing more people, viewers and creators alike, to the struggling platform, IGTV is scrapping its vertical video requirement, instead supporting both horizontal and vertical video. Now, instead of seeing those ugly blurred bars or giant letterboxes at the top and bottom of horizontally-oriented videos, users will be able to rotate their screens to view the video in full-screen.
To understand what this adjustment could mean for the platform, let’s take a quick look at the history of IGTV and the changes that could still be ahead.
Why Vertical Video?
Instagram’s original idea — creating IGTV as a vertical video-only platform — was always a bit of a gamble. While you could say that vertical video is having a moment, it’s still not the norm for viewing long form content.
Instagram’s Stories feature, which uses vertical video, has been wildly successful since its introduction in 2016, and aiming to use that popularity to take on video-giant Youtube, Instagram introduced IGTV last year. The difference between Stories and IGTV, however, is that Stories are only 15 seconds long at maximum, and IGTV videos can be up to 10 minutes long for average users and 60 minutes long for established channels.
Another strike against vertical video is the simple fact that video platforms like YouTube have become about much more than candid viral videos shot from a person’s iPhone. Most popular content creators don’t shot video in a vertical format. They use expensive cameras and fancy editing software to create highly-produced content. Uploading those videos into a vertical format on IGTV leaves unsightly blurred boxes on the top and bottom of the screen, making the video much smaller and more difficult to view.
With horizontal videos now supported on IGTV, it could be just the thing content creators are looking for to populate the platform with more diverse, better quality content.
We’re Not Out of the Woods Yet
IGTV still likely has a long ways to go, however, if it wants to give YouTube a run for its money.
The main issue that IGTV needs to address now is monetization. YouTube offers ad revenue incentives for creators to post videos to their site, but IGTV has no such monetization scheme, which leaves many users wondering, “Why bother?”
While there are still no ad options on IGTV, influencers may still make money on IGTV through brand partnerships.
While content-makers can, of course, still make money through IGTV via product endorsements and brand partnerships, low viewership stemming from a lack of quality content makes IGTV a less appealing option for influencer marketing than a standard IG post. You could say we’re stuck in a sort of loop when it comes to quality branded content. Because there’s little existing IGTV content, viewers steer clear, and brands refrain from using IGTV to create new content. However, monetization options may help to break that cycle and bring more quality content, and therefore more viewers, to the platform.
Will IGTV Ever Catch On?
IGTV looked like it had one foot in the grave almost since the day it launched. Suffering from low viewership and a lack of content, the platform failed to truly pick up steam. Even IGTV’s celebrity and influencer launch partners only produced an average of 5 videos prior to abandoning the platform.
Back in the end of February, however, something interesting happened. IGTV’s views suddenly took a sharp turn upward, averaging between a 300–1000% increase across many popular channels. This uptick in viewership was thanks in no small part to Instagram choosing to show short IGTV previews in users’ main feeds. Users could then tap the preview to continue to watch the full video in IGTV.
With these latest changes, it’s clear that Instagram isn’t quite ready to give up on IGTV, so maybe we shouldn’t either.