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The smartest thing about IGTV

It's been a day now since Instagram introduced IGTV, its new home for watching longform vertical vide
June 21 · Issue #158 · View online
The Interface
It’s been a day now since Instagram introduced IGTV, its new home for watching longform vertical video. It was the first event Instagram has held since launching direct messages, and its first event in California since it added video in 2013. The company rented out the former Fillmore West concert hall, decking it out with colorful sets for selfie-taking, and offering the gathered press and influencers a camera-friendly spread of açai bowls and toasts. 
The event had a big-deal feel appropriate to the occasion, at which the company would announce that Instagram had reached 1 billion users. Unfortunately, it was marred by technical snafus, which caused the program to be delayed for 45 minutes. Instagram accidentally published its blog post with all the news before it could begin, drawing the attention of the assembled reporters far from the stage. 
A planned 30-minute program was truncated to 10, barely leaving time for CEO Kevin Systrom to announce the new app and billion-user milestone before turning things over to a pair of influencers to talk up IGTV. 
It marked a rare screw-up for a company known for its finesse. But Instagram got one big thing right when it built IGTV, and it got too little attention yesterday amid the tumult of the launch.
Josh Constine got many details right in his story from earlier this month on Instagram’s plans for longform video. The big question heading into the event was where Instagram would put it. 
Some speculated that video would take center stage in a redesign of Instagram’s Explore tab, which pops up when you hit the app’s search icon. One person told me they believed it would appear in Direct, the standalone messaging app that Instagram is currently testing. I didn’t see anyone guess what Instagram actually did: create a new tab inside Instagram, and a standalone app outside it. The former is expected; the latter is the money move, and the combination is inspired.
Social networks generally make lousy places to consume video. The problem is that we typically browse them with our thumbs primed to keep scrolling. Video requires an investment most of us aren’t willing to make, no matter how titillating the first few seconds of a video might be. Even when people stop scrolling, they still won’t tap the volume button to turn on the sound — 86 percent of Facebook videos are watched with it off.
Twitter has a similar problem. Snap was smart enough to move videos into a separate section, but presented content as static thumbnails, incentivizing salacious content of the “check out this model in a bikini” variety. Every social network wants to be the future of TV, and yet few seemed to understand anything about how we actually watch TV.
Systrom addressed the issue head on Wednesday, pointing out in his opening remarks that we like the TV because it starts playing when we turn it on. IGTV works just this way: open the app and it starts playing the video it predicts you’re most likely to enjoy, based on your interests. Talking to reporters later, he spoke to the need to give video a home separate from the endless scrolling feeds of his flagship app:
“When you watch longer video, you need a different context,” Systrom said. “We really wanted to separate those two so you could choose which adventure you wanted to go down.”
Of course, IGTV has lots of competition as it seeks to wrest premium video away from YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, and its parent organization. That makes it all the more disappointing that the company has no immediate plans to help creators make money from their videos.
But if a social app is going to build the future of TV, it has to create a true destination for watching video. By launching a standalone app for IGTV, Instagram has done just that. 

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And finally ...
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