“Go to them on the platform they’re on”

Millennials don't hate the news, they just don't watch it on TV

It’s no secret that TV screens have been getting bigger and bigger in recent years, but with its newest platform, Instagram decided to go in the opposite direction — it wants to turn your phone into your next TV screen with the IGTV app.

And it’s something that some local TV news stations are eagerly experimenting with.

WNBC was one of the first stations to jump on IGTV. Ben Berkowitz, the New York O&O’s digital vice president, said that it started posting content on IGTV about 12 hours after the app was introduced and open to post content on.

Just two months earlier, WNBC had launched its news brief show Listen Up on Instagram Stories. So when IGTV was announced, WNBC already had a successful product on Stories, one that had gone through months of development, that it could easily transfer to this new platform.

Berkowitz described the show itself as a daily news, weather, and lifestyle brief for a millennial audience on the go. It came about because there are consumers out there who care about news, but aren’t going to suddenly change their habits and start watching TV. So, said Berkowitz, WNBC decided to “go to them on the platform that they’re on.”

Screenshots from WNBC’s show “Listen Up” on IGTV.

Something different about this show is that it doesn’t cover A-block news. The producers leave out the crime and traffic accidents to focus on the few stories they think their followers really need to know about each day.

News briefs are not exclusive to IGTV, but the big difference is what the platform adds. IGTV is built unlike any other social video sharing platform on the market.

It was created with both the searchability of YouTube and the immediacy of TV — content populates and begins playing as soon as you open the app, like turning on a TV.

The most unique aspect of IGTV is that it was built just for mobile — specifically your phone. The videos function consistently with how people actually use their phone because they’re exclusively full screen and vertical.

IGTV is an extension of Stories, a feature that Instagram released in 2016, and it builds on Stories by allowing users to post videos of any length — from less than one minute to up to an hour. WNBC’s daily Listen Up segments on IGTV are each about two minutes long.

According to Berkowitz, choosing Instagram as the platform to showcase Listen Up was a no-brainer. Research showed that Instagram is the platform of choice for New York millennials.

On the same day IGTV dropped, the company also announced that it had become the fastest social media platform to reach one billion followers. According to a study by the Pew Research Center in 2018, Instagram is currently the second highest used social media platform — behind YouTube — for American teenagers.

But that doesn’t mean that millennial users are ready to embrace a linear product like Listen Up on IGTV. Berkowitz noted that the completion rate on Stories was four times higher than on IGTV. He believes that is due in part to the fact that on Stories, “if there’s a story you don’t like, you can skip it. On IGTV, you’re locked in for the full 2 minutes.”

Berkowitz says capturing users on Instagram today will pay off in the long haul. “We need to build a brand relationship with them now so when they have kids and move to the suburbs, they think of us,” Berkowitz said.

Has your station begun experimenting on IGTV? Send us your examples to cronkitenewslab@asu.edu, and we’ll check them out.

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Article: BuzzFeed, Instagram to Fund 15 Video Creators’ IGTV Projects. Read here.

Article: Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018. Read here.

Article: BBC among news outlets adopting new Instagram TV platform in bid to reach younger audiences on demand. Read here.

Article: The Cincinnati Enquirer wrote an audience-driven article using Instagram Stories (and it wasn’t even about a hippo). Read here.

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