Instagram celebrates 1 billion users by announcing IGTV video platform

Facebook Inc-owned social network Instagram launched a mobile app on Wednesday dedicated to user-generated videos up to an hour long, intensifying the competition for consumers' time among ad-supported streaming services such as YouTube.

Instagram notes on its new website promoting IGTV that mobile video content will make up for nearly 80% of all mobile data traffic within three years.

"We've come a really long way in just eight years, and it's thanks to this incredible community ... that we've been able to launch IGTV", Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said on stage at a launch event in San Francisco that was beset by delays and technical issues.

IGTV launched as its own app on Wednesday in the USA, though it's possible to view videos and get recommendations for what to watch through the traditional Instagram app. Facebook is paying for rights to shows now, but the company aims for the content to eventually be popular enough to be supported exclusively by advertising revenue.

To start, there will be a cap on the videos: 10 minutes for most users, and an hour for certain accounts with more followers.

Systrom highlighted that to make the platform sustainable they will have to monetise IGTV in the correct way. But it's also an obvious effort on Instagram's part to compete with YouTube and its army of influencers.

While you're watching the videos, you can comment, share or like without leaving the full-screen video mode - a property Instagram seems to have borrowed from its parent company, Facebook.

The concept of "creators" is heavy in this announcement, you follow a creators channel - basically their Instagram feed - in the IGTV app and their content automatically starts playing as soon as you open the app.

The IGTV app will give users the ability to follow their favorite creators and use machine learning to predict which videos they'll want to watch next.

The photo-sharing app, which is owned by Facebook, last revealed the number of users on its platform in September, when there were 800 million people using the app.

It means Instagram joins a prestigious club of apps and services that have one billion users, that includes Facebook, WhatsApp, Google Chrome, and YouTube. Those were the good old days, right guys, ' Systrom said. Instead of watching NBC or HBO, you'll be watching a friend or an Instagram star. You can swipe up to discover more - switch between "For You", "Following", "Popular" and "Continue Watching".

Systrom has no current plans to sell advertising on IGTV but said ads would likely be added in the future. But Instagram isn't yet doing one thing that YouTube started doing early on: cutting creators in on ad profits. According to an introductory blog post, the answer to that question will involve some of the biggest names in online video.

A whole platform built around vertical video and access to the most annoying of Instagram's Stars?

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