Instagram may be late to the long format video party, but it is poised to make up lost ground rather quickly. With the long format content (of over 20 minutes) making up more than 50% of time watched on smartphones, and completion rates on mobile almost similar to tablets, at 56.6% (as per Ooyala Global Video Index), investing in the digital video business is lucrative.
Experts say Instagram’s long format video offering IGTV is set to disrupt the ecosystem further. Currently, the plans include uploading and viewing of user-generated content only. However, according to a Wavemaker report, “Eventually, the company aims to bring terrestrial TV content, such as reruns of popular shows or even freshly commissioned shows to its platform in due course.” This move could put IGTV in competition with subscription video on demand (SVOD) content services such as Netflix, Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video, in addition to its biggest rival YouTube.
“We should expect native Instagram influencers to quickly adapt, but expecting the mainstream content ecosystem in India to start moving to the vertical format is a long shot when all OTT and video platforms are still working with the horizontal format,” says Shekhar Banerjee, managing partner, Wavemaker India.
“How long format videos perform on a social platform is up for discussion. Facebook Watch didn’t crack the code. Long format demands a more immersive experience,” says Monika Shergill, EVP and
content head, Viacom18 Digital Ventures.
However, the demography which social platforms like IGTV cater to and the functionality it brings to table cannot be ignored. IGTV can play a key role in two areas. The first would be interactive long format content which currently SVOD players are not into as they are focussed on premium content meant for passive viewing. The second is brand storytelling, as a social platform can allow for it. “If IGTV does this, it could be a new trend,” opines Shergill.
So far, SVOD players leverage Instagram for discovery, promotion and as a hunting ground for new consumers.
Manav Sethi, chief marketing officer, ALTBalaji, says he doesn’t see any dent on the SVOD market but IGTV can bring in more users into the fold. “Social is a discovery platform. It will bring in new consumers who will talk about it and drive long-tail communication outside the platform,” he says.
But in the end, all platforms vie for one thing — the consumer’s time. But on a social platform, the average length of content consumed is 10-30 minutes. This is where IGTV may compete with other platforms like SVOD or YouTube.
“Drop rates are higher if the content duration is more than 30 minutes. For social, most content creators are investing in content which is not more then 20-30 minutes long,” says Shrenik Gandhi, CEO and co-founder, White Rivers Media.
However, the largest piece currently missing from IGTV’s agenda is monetisation. “YouTube has become a hub of all videos, as opposed to IGTV, which is focussed on recommendations and content creators. Its recommendation engine seems quite strong,” says Pooja Gururaj, lead channel and social media, VML India. Not to forget, YouTube’s monetisation model and relationships with content creators is its advantage. But how things pan out, is anyone’s guess.