Facebook Inc.- owned Instagram may be slowly backing away from its IGTV video service, removing the main access button for the service from the Instagram app.
Launched in June 2018, IGTV initially differentiated itself from YouTube by only offering vertical videos, a format considered awful by some because it doesn’t capture the surroundings of the subject, but it’s apparently popular among millennials. Instagram added support for landscape or horizontal videos in May.
Videos uploaded to IGTV can be viewed in several ways. For existing users, the removed IGTV button on Instagram took users to the standalone IGTV app. Alternatively, IGTV content can be previewed through feeds, the IGTV tab in Explore and directly on creator profiles.
The problem, as reported Saturday by TechCrunch, is that very few people were bothering with the standalone app. It’s said to have only 7 million downloads since launch, although that could be generous, since the app has only a count of 1 million+ on Google Play. By comparison, TikTok, the most popular social video app among millennials and those younger, is listed as having more than 100 million installs on Google Play alone.
“Very few are clicking into the IGTV icon in the top right corner of the home screen in the Instagram app,” an Instagram spokesperson said. “We always aim to keep Instagram as simple as possible, so we’re removing this icon based on these learnings and feedback from our community.”
While IGTV may not be going away anytime soon, the removal of the button along with the poor app numbers could potentially see the service folded into Instagram’s core offering in the future.
Instagram’s core offering remains highly popular, but the service faces challenges going forward. The still-growing popularity of TikTok shows that not only Instagram but other older social media services continually run the risk of being disrupted by new comers.
It was also announced in November that Instagram would expand a test of removing public “like” counts as well, a move that hasn’t been taken well by users. Ostensibly aimed at tackling bullying, it has nonetheless prompted some to accuse Instagram of looking instead to increase direct advertising by reducing the influence of its top users.
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