Instagram Adds Live Video Broadcasts

Instagram Stories H 2016
Courtesy of Instagram

The Facebook-owned photo and video app has also added disappearing photos for its direct messaging feature.

Instagram is jumping on the live video trend. 

The Facebook-owned photo and video sharing app announced Monday morning that users will soon be able to share live videos from within its new Stories feature for disappearing posts. 

The move comes two weeks after CEO Kevin Systrom teased the launch of live, telling the Financial Times that "live is really exciting" for Instagram, adding "if I'm trying to strengthen relationships with someone I love, them streaming video to me live would be an amazing way to be closer to them." 

Live videos, which will slowly roll out to users globally in the coming weeks, will broadcast to a person's Instagram followers in the main feed. Much like other live offerings, people will be able to leave comments and likes during the broadcast. But unlike some others, live videos will not save after the broadcast ends. 

Head of product Kevin Weil tells The Hollywood Reporter that live video is part of a larger change for Instagram away from focusing on big highlights to encouraging posts about all types of moments. That was the impetus for Stories, a Snapchat clone that launched in August to encourage more frequent, less polished posts from users. Instagram says that more than 100 million people now use Stories every day. 

"As the community grew, the feed became more of a pressure packed place," Weil says. "That was the genesis for Instagram Stories. It was the first pressure-free place in Instagram to share without worrying about posting too many times." 

Live, he explains, is the next step in that effort. "What unites Stories and Live is that both are about capturing the moments of your life as they happen and giving you the flexibility and the comfort to share exactly who you want to share with." 

The landscape for live online video has become increasingly competitive over the last year as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have all made it a priority. Twitter has focused on deals with broadcasts for tentpole events like NFL games and presidential debates. Meanwhile, Facebook has encouraged public figures and online publishers to post Live videos by funding their efforts. But Instagram will look to stand out with a more casual approach to the format by tying it to Stories, which has been billed as a low-pressure way to connect with friends and other followers. 

Instagram is also making an update to Direct, its private messaging platform that has 300 million monthly users. In another move that mirrors Snapchat, Instagram will allow people to send disappearing photos and videos to groups and one-on-one conversations via Direct. The feature works much like Stories, except instead of disappearing after 24 hours the post disappears after it has been viewed.