Instagram is removing the IGTV button from the main screen of its app because “very few” people tap on it.
The decision was confirmed to TechCrunch by a spokesperson for the Facebook-owned company, who claimed that members of the Instagram community are instead “finding IGTV content through previews in Feed, the IGTV channel in Explore, creators’ profiles, and the standalone app.”
The spokesperson said that “very few are clicking into the IGTV icon,” and so there’s little reason to have it there.
“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,” the representative said.
The removal of the button frees up some valuable screen real estate for Instagram, though at this stage it’s not clear what, if anything, will go in its place.
But the decision to ditch the icon — up to now the easiest way to access IGTV content from the main Instagram app — has put the spotlight on the popularity of IGTV itself, and calls into question whether Instagram is struggling to attract new users to the service.
IGTV launched in June 2018 as a way to post long-form video, though it’s aimed primarily at celebrities and those big on social media. Widely described as a bid by Instagram to take on YouTube, the service allows video uploads of up to an hour in duration for certain influencers, while regular users can post videos lasting up to 10 minutes.
Despite its huge backing, IGTV only managed to get around 7.8 million downloads in the first 12 months after its 2018 launch, according to Apptopia, a tracker of mobile apps. At the same time, Apptopia also estimated that IGTV had about 1.75 million monthly users, a figure that pales in comparison to the main Instagram app, which has more than a billion monthly users, or even TikTok, which had around 500 million monthly active users as of mid-2018. And while Instagram has been happy to tout the user numbers for its Snapchat-like Stories feature, which has been hugely popular, it’s backed away from offering stats about IGTV.
Instagram’s YouTube competitor suffered issues at the start with some users frustrated at lack of support for horizontal videos. Sure, you could upload them, but they wouldn’t fill the screen when you tilted your phone, and so left a lot of white space around your small-sized video. IGTV supported vertical videos in a bid to cement its mobile-first credentials. , but less than a year in, it changed tack and allowed horizontal videos to fill the screen.
Losing the icon at the top of the Instagram app doesn’t mean that IGTV is about to switch off, but it’s not exactly a promising sign that Instagram has ditched the most convenient way to access the service from its main app. Watch this space.