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Instagram tries to ‘retire’ horizontal video format

With IGTV, Facebook company rekindles debate over video formats on the web and opens space for the emergence of new influencers

standing or lying down? “The discussion about filming a video is not recent, but it has gained more and more strength in social networks, on the one hand there are those who defend the tradition of cinema, TV and even YouTube. , are those who believe in the simplicity of “an idea in the head and a cell phone in the hand.”

In recent weeks, the second team’s argument has gained momentum with the launch of IGTV, the television of the application for sharing photos and videos Instagram. new TV online, you can only watch videos vertically.

“We’ve always felt that there was something wrong with watching videos on the cell phone horizontally,” said Mike Krieger, co-founder of the app. For ten days in the air, it reverses a tradition of more than a century. “We have both eyes aligned horizontally,” explains film and TV director Philippe Barcinski (from the 3% series and the novel Velho Chico). “Cinema and TV have come out of this: it is something that gives comfort to the viewer.”

On the internet, the tradition held. YouTube, founded in 2005, bet on the format, selling the idea that anyone could have their own channel on the web. But thirteen years later and 1.9 billion active users , the “do it yourself” thing does not always work anymore because the platform has become more sophisticated.

“The videos are very professional, it’s no longer a friendly platform for those starting out,” says PC Siqueira, the country’s pioneer youtuber. “It’s no longer about making content without commitment, talking about everyday life, like I used to.”

Instagram tries to grow on a change in video consumption, fueled by the explosion of smartphone usage in recent years – and one of the key factors that has driven YouTube to grow. “The public sees my videos lying in bed with the phone, not on the TV,” says Pedro Rezende, RezendeEvil, who has 17.7 million subscribers on YouTube – today, most of the views on the platform are made on mobile devices.Use the mobile not only to see, but to produce your own videos also became commonplace. “I’ve already argued that you could only film horizontally,” says Barcinski. “Today, I only say this if the person wants their video to go to TV or movies.” Some are against. “People are not willing to turn the phone,” says Luli Radfahrer, a professor at the University of São Paulo (USP). “Vertical video is not an aesthetic proposition, it’s a resignation.”

IGTV picks up on the success of another Instagram feature dedicated to “vertical” content: Stories, which lets you post photos and videos of up to 15 seconds, which come out after 24 hours. Invented by Snapchat, the feature became popular and gave space for shorter, simpler and personal videos – on IGTV, however, videos can take up to an hour.

“It’s something for people to watch while doing other things, it’s simpler,” says PC Siqueira, who has been using IGTV since its debut. “When I watch a video horizontally, I feel like I have to focus to see it.”

For now, IGTV still does not pose a direct threat to YouTube, experts say. The Google platform also does not see “Instagram TV” as a rival. “Today, we are a great encyclopedia, there is room for other platforms with segmented performance,” says Fernanda Cerávolo, director of YouTube in Brazil.

Influencers are betting that IGTV may be an alternative to the “war” of content producers within YouTube, reducing the entry barrier for beginners. “IGTV will open the opportunity for anyone who has never made video,” says Marina Viabone of the Primera Rabisco channel, who wants to record versions of their videos for both platforms.

Similar idea is that of Osmar Portilho, the Josmi, whose channel brings tips for who wants to produce its own content. “My plan is to stay focused on YouTube, but take advantage of IGTV to make exclusive content,” he says, who complains about the limitation. “For those who do audiovisual, recording vertically is terrible.” In one of his videos for IGTV, he even comments on the sensation of being “squeezed on the screen” without being able to gesticulate right.

For now, the youtubers who have produced content for IGTV see the platform as a medium-term investment: they want to get the public’s attention now to make money later. That’s because IGTV still does not show ads. “We want it to be something balanced between the influencers, us and the brands,” Krieger said.

Instagram’s history shows that this is a genuine concern: since it started running in-app ads in 2015, the company adjusts brand content so they do not get out of the pretty, filter-filled photos posted there. The result is a different experience from what exists on YouTube, where ads appear at the beginning or middle of the videos, with no adaptations.

There is still a long way to go to give IGTV money. Until then, the format debate can change course. “Vertical video makes sense on the cell phone today,” says Luiz Peres-Neto, professor of communication at the School of Advertising and Marketing (ESPM). “Maybe in 10 years, this discussion is not irrelevant, either because the smartphone has become ubiquitous or because it has lost space for a new gadget.”

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