Facebook removes Instagram’s IGTV button – with only 7 million users having installed the app

The race to topple TikTok is on, and Facebook’s Instagram fired an early salvo last year with the release of IGTV; an on-demand video portal for longform content that was designed to supplement its eponymous mobile app. The strategy, while perhaps a clumsy user experience, was simple – users could hit an IGTV button to watch longform content within the main app itself, or instead download the dedicated IGTV app.

Now, in what feels like an admission of a flop, Instagram has removed the orange IGTV icon from Instagram’s main presence. Citing the reality that few users actually clicked through, users can now instead access IGTV content directly from the main Explore feed within the app itself.

With the news, Facebook confirmed that the main IGTV app has only been downloaded by 7 million users – around 1.5% of the estimated one billion users that Instagram actually commands. Accordingly, TikTok has effortlessly outshone Instagram with an estimated 80 million downloads in the same period.

In a statement to the press, a Facebook company spokesperson quipped that “As we’ve continued to work on making it easier for people to create and discover IGTV content, we’ve learned that most people are finding IGTV content through previews in Feed, the IGTV channel in Explore, creators’ profiles and the standalone app. Very few are clicking into the IGTV icon in the top right corner of the home screen in the Instagram app… 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 news is a fascinating insight that Facebook’s usual strategy – bombard your competitors and make their unique features as ubiquitous as possible – isn’t always a surefire plan. Since its release, IGTV still lacks a dedicated way for content creators to earn an income similar to how YouTube or Facebook Watch stars are able to.

What are your thoughts? Would you be more likely to use TikTok or IGTV? Be sure to let us know your opinion in the comments below!