What is IGTV? All Your Instagram TV Questions, Answered

Amy Lecza
Amy Lecza  |  September 18, 2018

If you’ve ever absentmindedly wasted several hours at a time on Instagram, you’re not alone.

From beautiful photos and funny memes to compelling Instagram Stories and Instagram Live sessions with brands and influencers alike, it’s no surprise that the app is more popular than ever, and Instagram marketing continues to grow too. Similarly, there’s no denying that live streaming on all major social media platforms is expanding.

Live streaming as a social media marketing tactic and consumer trend is expanding quickly - in fact, the live streaming industry was valued at $30 billion in 2016 and is projected to more than double by 2021 to $70 billion. The app itself has more than 400 million daily users, which poses a significant opportunity to social media marketers who are looking to harness the power of live video and IGTV moving forward. But first, a definition of IGTV.

what-is-igtv-logo

(IGTV app logo ℅ Apple App Store)

What is IGTV used for?

The IGTV app stands alone but users can also view IGTV from within the Instagram app itself, ensuring that the social media app’s total user base of more than one billion can tune in. Some tech experts even see IGTV as Instagram’s answer to YouTube, as they’re betting on users’ inclination to browse multiple videos as the next video in the queue auto-plays, extending the time spent on the app.

IGTV vs. Instagram Live

You’re probably wondering how IGTV and Instagram Live differ. While on the surface they seem similar, there are a few key differences: like regular TV, IGTV has channels that you can tune into. These channels are connected to specific Instagram accounts, and you can access them from the IGTV app at any time.

what-is-igtv-atk

 

The photo above is what IGTV looks like within the Instagram app. The brand’s name and account info are prominently displayed, and you can see the title of the video clearly. The quality is very good.

An Instagram Live video is being filmed as it is being streamed - it truly is live as it also encourages and displays audience participation. For example, users can see comments on the article in real time. The main difference is that once an Instagram Live video is posted, it only lives on the app for 24 hours before it disappears, and it isn’t archived or able to be saved anywhere, even on a brand page. 

what-is-igtv-be

 

Above, you’ll see an example of what an Instagram live video looks like on your screen. You’ll notice the most significant difference is that comments appear live on the screen, and the colored hearts indicate who is “liking” the post in real time.

An IGTV session can be, and often is, filmed professionally and uploaded to the IGTV channel at a time that is convenient for the administrator. It’s easy to see the difference in quality from IGTV to a Live video. They’re different functions of the main Instagram app, both worth pursuing as part of your social media marketing strategy.

Instagram user statistics

Before you learn how to use IGTV, it will be helpful to understand who Instagram’s key audience is. During the launch of the IGTV, the company’s leadership announced that it hit a huge milestone - 1 billion users.

what-is-igtv-instagram-user-growth-graphic

Here are some more fast facts about Instagram users to help give you an idea of who might be viewing IGTV videos.

  • More than 500 million Instagram accounts around the world are active daily
  • More than 400 million Instagram accounts use Instagram Stories every day
  • More than 70% of U.S. businesses use Instagram
  • 80% of users follow one or more businesses on Instagram
  • There is a nearly even distribution of women and men who are active on Instagram
  • The most active age ranges for account users on Instagram are 18-34, with 35-44 in a close second.

From this data, it’s easy to see that Instagram is one of the top-ranked social media networks, and the acquisition by Facebook only did more to help integrate users across both platforms. In fact, Instagram is the fifth most-used social network, behind Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger.

How to use IGTV

Let's explore some of the most common questions about IGTV.

How to create an IGTV account

If you already have an Instagram account, it’s not difficult to set up an IGTV account. Here are the steps:

  1. Download the IGTV app from the Apple App Store or Google Play
  2. Open and sign into the IGTV app using your existing Instagram login
  3. In the right-hand corner, click on the gear icon to open settings, then click Create Channel
  4. You’re in!

How long can IGTV videos be?

Video size for IGTV: an IGTV video can be between 15 seconds and 10 minutes in length. Verified accounts have the option to run videos up to one hour in length.

IGTV file type

If you want to upload a video to IGTV, it is required to be in .MP4 format.

IGTV thumbnail file size

When you upload an IGTV video, you’ll be able to choose a thumbnail image, either by scrolling through the lineup of image stills from the video itself or by an independent upload.

IGTV on mobile

IGTV is accessed from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets that run the App Store/Google Play app. You can watch it from either the IGTV app or the original Instagram app. When you watch an IGTV video, it will take up the entire screen. Once the video concludes, it will autoplay from whichever category you have selected.

what-is-igtv-cosmo

 

For example, in the above image, there are several categories:

  • For You: in this category, the Instagram algorithm chooses videos it thinks you’ll like based on what you’ve previously watched, which accounts you follow and what time of day it is. For example, if you, like me, enjoy watching drag queen makeup transformation videos, your For You will have more of this type of video.
  • Following: in this category, you’ll find videos that are from accounts or channels that you have chosen to follow. This is a great place to keep track of accounts that are of interest to you.
  • Popular: in this category, you’ll be able to view videos that are popular around the world. I have it highlighted, so you can see that right now, a video Rihanna posted, a Refinery 29 story and a Bollywood wedding dance are trending worldwide. This is the ideal place to keep a pulse on what’s hot around the world, and which stories people are paying attention to.
  • Continue Watching: If you’ve started and stopped videos, you can find the unfinished videos living in this tab, just waiting for you to finish watching them.

IGTV on desktop

At this time, desktop users are not able to view IGTV content. It’s not supported in any capacity on desktop, even if the user has saved the IGTV channel on their Highlights page. Below, you’ll see the @cookingchannel account page on desktop and mobile.

 

what-is-igtv-cooking

 

Notice that the IGTV icon disappears on a desktop browser.

 

what-is-igtv-cooking-desktop

 

However, Instagram often makes updates to its desktop experience, so in the future, IGTV very well may be offered on desktop. Keep in mind, though, that most Instagram users are mobile, and don’t forget to tailor your content to a mobile audience.

In summary, IGTV is a unique way to broadcast content to customers, fans, and followers. In the months ahead, we expect that more businesses will find ways to creatively market via IGTV, taking advantage of the full suite that Instagram offers businesses. If your business has a strong visual product, you may want to consider using IGTV to promote yourself. 

Amy Lecza
Author

Amy Lecza

Amy Lecza is a content marketing manager at G2 Crowd. She's passionate about learning, editing and copy writing, and she has been known to keep a red pen on her person for copy editing emergencies.