When Instagram launched IGTV last month, the long-form video service — where individual videos can run for up to an hour — was described in the media as a “YouTube competitor” and “Instagram’s answer to YouTube.” It’s not hard to see where those descriptions came from. IGTV is an open platform that almost anyone can post to, like YouTube. It gives users the ability to watch videos of all shapes and sizes, just like YouTube. Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, IGTV has the monetary and technological backing of a tech giant, just like YouTube. And it features the work of top online video stars like LaurDIY and King Bach, just like YouTube.
YouTube seems to be taking the threat of IGTV seriously. According to Business Insider, the Google-owned video site has been cutting five- and six-figure checks to top creators in order to assure that those stars don’t share their new content in an exclusive IGTV window.
The creators receiving these types of handouts include Indian-Canadian icon Lilly Singh, and some of the checks could range as high as seven figures, Business Insider reported. In return for the bonuses, YouTube wants creators to post exclusively to their YouTube channels, or at least post concurrently on platforms like YouTube and IGTV.
YouTube, in response to Business Insider‘s request for comment, claimed that these deals have been part of its business for a while. “We have no new initiative in place,” a YouTube representative said. “We have always invested in our creators’ success and will continue to do so to ensure they have a great experience and can find continued growth and opportunity on YouTube.”
There’s evidence to suggest YouTube has employed this strategy before. Similar reports popped up in late 2014, when YouTube faced a challenge from upstart video platform Vessel. Vessel’s execs made multi-million dollar guarantees to top online video stars, but many of them opted to stay put on the familiar shores of YouTube.
Vessel was acquired by Verizon in 2016 and promptly shut down; its team went to work at Go90, which was itself eventually absorbed into Verizon-owned Oath. It remains to be seen whether Instagram, already established as a popular platform, has enough firepower to lure creators to IGTV even in spite of any financial incentives YouTube may be offering, but the battle between the two video services is evidently underway.