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Instagram Launches IGTV

In addition to announcing that its global community has pushed past the 1 billion mark, Instagram this week introduced IGTV, a new app for long-form, vertical video for the social media platform's array of creators.

Instagram is offering IGTV via a stand-alone app an integrated with the flagship Instagram app, enabling users to share videos that are up to an hour long. It will be rolling out globally over the next few weeks on Android and iOS.

“Just like turning on the TV, IGTV starts playing as soon as you open the app,” Kevin Systrom, Instagram’s co-founder and CEO, explained in this blog post, calling IGTV the start of a “new chapter of video on Instagram.”

Users will get instant access to videos from others they are following on Instagram, and can use the swippable interface to connect with more personalized “For You” selections, as well as a curated selection of popular videos and creator “channels” that are offered on IGTV. IGTV users can also like and comment on IGTV videos and send videos directly to other users.

Though IGTV is being viewed by some as a potential YouTube rival, given its focus on its creator community, the new offering’s focus on portrait-mode video and the notion of channels also is a nod of sorts to the approach of Dreams, a startup led by execs late of Google and Instagram that recently relaunched a mobile TV service that features licensed content from partners such as Discovery Communications and Bloomberg that’s been optimized for smartphone screens.

RELATED: Dreams Launches Mobile TV Lineup, Raises $5M