Facebook wants to take on YouTube, and it’s using Instagram to do it.
Instagram on Wednesday launched a new longform video feature called Instagram TV (IGTV) that lets users post videos up to 10 minutes in length. In the past, videos had a 1-minute limit.
Instagram users with a large following (an Instagram spokesperson would not specify a number) will be able to post videos of up to one hour in length—the rest of us get 10 minutes.
The feature is still rolling out to users globally, so if you don’t have it yet, you will soon.
Yahoo Finance gave IGTV a test drive. Here’s how it works.
The IGTV button is located at the top right of the Instagram app home screen, next to the message inbox button. When you open IGTV, it is a separate section with tabs for videos recommended to you based on whom you follow; videos posted by people you do follow; and popular videos globally. You can also follow channels from media brands, a la Snapchat Discover. To view someone else’s IGTV channel, go to their Instagram page and tap the IGTV button below their avatar, next to any highlighted Instagram Stories they’ve posted.
To post your own IGTV video, you first have to create your channel. Once you do, you can post videos by clicking on your own profile avatar within IGTV.
Here’s an IGTV video example we came up with around the Yahoo Finance newsroom on Wednesday.
IGTV is not for shooting live video from within the Instagram app. You can only post pre-shot video from your phone, and only vertical video. Your minimum length is 15 seconds, your maximum 10 minutes (unless you have a large following). When you post a video, you can choose to post it to Facebook simultaneously.
IGTV is not a Periscope or Twitter-style tool for live, spontaneous video. Rather, it is clearly aimed at high-quality creators with huge followings—people like Kim Kardashian, who is already using IGTV actively.
Some are already calling IGTV a “YouTube-killer,” but in its current state, with various kinks, it doesn’t look like much of a threat. Still, with Instagram having just hit 1 billion active users, it has a big enough base that many, many people are likely to at least try it out. And everyone remembers how swiftly Instagram was able to ape Snapchat with Instagram Stories and then quickly surpass Snapchat in users.
If celebrities, athletes, or other influencers begin posting curated, high-polish 30-minute shows to Instagram TV, you can envision it becoming a challenger to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, or YouTube TV, since young people have their phones in hand all day. (Picture an original series like Tom vs Time, the Tom Brady miniseries that aired last year on Facebook Watch, posting on IGTV.)
In other words: IGTV may not look super-impressive yet, but YouTube and other mobile video platforms ought to consider themselves on alert.
Daniel Roberts covers tech and media at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.