Instagram expands into long videos, will compete with YouTube

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Facebook Inc-owned (FB.O) social network Instagram said on Wednesday it was adding a section dedicated to long-form video, expanding beyond its photo-sharing app roots in a competition among streaming services for consumers’ time.

FILE PHOTO: The Instagram application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White

Instagram Chief Executive Kevin Systrom said at an event in San Francisco that the section would be called IGTV and feature videos from rising internet celebrities and artists.

It will begin as part of Instagram’s app and also be available as a separate app, Systrom said.

Instagram recently surpassed 1 billion monthly active users, Systrom told reporters, staff and video creators gathered at a warehouse used to announce the video expansion.

Tech firms such as Facebook, Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) YouTube and Snap Inc’s (SNAP.N) Snapchat have been spending heavily to grow mobile video services that will attract both users and corporate brand advertising.

Instagram, which Facebook bought in 2012 for $1 billion, has grown an app originally made for sharing photos into a service that people also use to send messages and post short videos. It has slowly added various kinds of advertising.

Adopting the features of other mobile apps has helped drive Instagram’s growth. In 2016, it added the ability to post slideshows that disappear in 24 hours, a copy of Snapchat’s popular “stories” feature.

Reporting by David Ingram; Additional reporting by Vibhuti Sharma; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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