Instagram just wanted to be a little more like YouTube. But despite two splashy launch events a year ago and the promise of a Kardashian, its long-form video feature IGTV has had trouble taking off.
The Facebook (FB)-owned company had good reason to think it could make a new feature a hit. Eight months after Instagram launched its Stories feature, it became more popular than Snapchat (SNAP) — the company that originally came up with the idea of photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours in the first place.
Since Stories launched in 2016, Instagram has shared several updates about how many people are using the feature (most recently: 500 million people each day), and it has continued to add new features to Stories, such as photo filters, polls and music.
But when it comes to metrics about IGTV, it’s crickets.
The feature is a hub for longer videos on Instagram, found by tapping the tiny icon of a TV at the top of the app. While anyone can use the feature, it’s primarily aimed at celebrities and people who make a living from social media. You must have 10,000 followers or more to post videos up to an hour long on IGTV, while regular users can only post videos that are up to 10 minutes.
“It’s very early [for IGTV], and in my mind we are really just getting started with this,” Jim Squires, Instagram’s head of business, said on Friday at a session at VidCon, the annual conference for online video creators in Anaheim, California.
The feature was announced in June 2018 and positioned as a competitor to Google’s (GOOG) YouTube. At the time, Instagram said it was tapping celebrities such as Kim Kardashian West and Selena Gomez to be among the first to upload longer-form videos to their accounts.
“IGTV has not been a resounding success like Stories has been. That is pretty obvious,” said Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst at research firm eMarketer.
Over a year later, the feature has struggled to gain traction. Kardashian West has posted just four IGTV videos, the most recent a full year ago, while Gomez has no IGTV videos on her account.
Some social media influencers told CNN Business a big reason it hasn’t been popular so far is because there’s no way for them to make money from the feature. On YouTube, similar-length videos can include ads that generate revenue for creators.
Lauren Riihimaki, a YouTube personality known as LaurDIY who also has an Instagram account with over 5 million followers, has posted just one IGTV video since its launch.
“The issue is that most creators have so much going on, especially with video content. That’s what takes the most time, energy and budget,” she said. “When something goes on YouTube, for the most part, you’re able to kind of reimburse your cost and monetize that. Instagram hasn’t rolled out monetization for IGTV yet.”
“It’s not a step I have time to do for free right now with my workload,” Riihimaki added.
Hannah Meloche, who has over 1.8 million followers on both YouTube and Instagram, said she hasn’t used the feature much and prefers to post longer videos to YouTube.
“If Instagram could add some sort of monetization, I feel like that would spark people’s interest a little bit more,” she said. “That’s probably why a lot of people tend to upload their longer videos to YouTube.”
But Meloche said that for influencers who only use Instagram and don’t have a YouTube following, IGTV is a “great way” to share a longer video.