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Instagram just killed the IGTV app — now it’s up to TikTok

Four years after it was first introduced, it looks like it’s the end of the road for Instagram’s stand-alone IGTV app. On Monday, Instagram’s official blog outlined a slew of measures to “simplify” the video experience on the platform, with one of these measures being the decision to stop updating the IGTV app henceforth.

The decision to kill off IGTV did not come as a surprise to most Instagram users, given that it has been surpassed in popularity by Instagram Reels. In fact, the writing was on the wall for IGTV last year, when Instagram stopped using the IGTV branding on its app. This was just after the company decided to merge all video content under ‘Instagram Videos.’

Why did Instagram pull the plug on IGTV?

A lot has changed in the four years since Instagram first introduced IGTV in 2018. It was initially conceptualized as a platform to counter the dominance of YouTube in the long-form video space, with the app concentrating solely on long-form vertical videos. Before IGTV, Instagram only allowed the uploading of short video clips to the platform with a maximum duration of one minute. IGTV extended that limit to an hour. Simply put, Instagram wanted IGTV to become the YouTube of vertical videos.

Apart from giving it a dedicated app, Instagram also promoted a lot of IGTV content to the main feed of the app. There were celebrity campaigns too. Instagram, however, quickly realized that the entire IGTV exercise did not deliver encouraging results. In fact, it began scaling down IGTV efforts on the platform in a phased manner in 2020. That was also the year Instagram silently removed the option that took people directly to a page with curated IGTV content. This was followed by the 2021 decision to drop the IGTV brand altogether and rename it to “Instagram TV.” In fact, the only place where you could still see the words IGTV was the dedicated IGTV app, which the company continued updating until August 2021.

TikTok splash screen seen on a smartphone display.

IGTV’s demise also has a lot to do with the rising popularity of the short-form video format pioneered by TikTok. In response, Instagram came up with its own TikTok alternative called Instagram Reels, which is already doing a lot better than IGTV. In fact, in India, thanks to a ban on TikTok, Instagram Reels alone has effectively replaced the former and now has a user base of over 200 million.

What next for Instagram Video?

Instagram is doubling down on its video efforts this year, and the recent blog posts hint at several new changes. These include a revamped portfolio of monetization options for creators that include bonuses and display ads on reels. Apart from the IGTV app, the company is also pulling the plug on the IGTV ads platform — which is now known as In-stream video ads. While the company stopped short of detailing specific feature additions to the Instagram app, it is evident that creators on the platform have a lot to look forward to in 2022 in terms of new earning opportunities.

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Rahul Srinivas
Rahul is a smartphone buff turned tech journalist who has been tinkering with all things mobile since the early 2000s. He has…
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