A few weeks ago, Instagram announced Video, a way to share 15 second clips as well as photos with followers. Social web video startup NowThis News is taking advantage of it and launching the first-ever Instagram news channel.
NowThis News has begun producing original clips that coincide with breaking news, such as the train crash in Spain and the birth of the royal baby. Some of the startup’s 37 employees are working solely on the Instagram video product with the goal of producing 15-20 news items per day. The clips will largely be voiceovers although some will have VJs.
The startup’s Editor-in-Chief Ed O’Keefe, who formerly ran ABC News’ digital team, says the channel is a way to engage with more users on an entirely new platform. Monetization is not the goal.
“It’s news in your pocket. Wherever you go, whatever you need, NowThis News is going to be on the platform you’re using,” he says. “It’s an entirely new way to watch and experience news.”
The focus on Instagram video was inspired by the popularity of Twitter’s Vine app. Instagram is also a large, untapped distribution channel with 130 million monthly active users. Many Vine and Instagram users are mobile-friendly Millennials, who NowThis News is eager to reach. O’Keefe doesn’t mind if the Instagram account eventually cannibalizes NowThis News’ native app, which has been downloaded a few hundred thousand times. It has a long way to go before that happens; NowThis News’ Instagram account currently has fewer than 1,000 followers.
“To be totally candid, we’re not thinking about monetization at this point,” O’Keefe says. “We’re concerned with, how do we create totally original content for Instagram…Whatever your preferred platform is, we should be there with original content that is intended for the platform that we’re on.”
He calls NowThis News Instagram Edition an “iterative experiment” that’s likely to make mistakes before it arrives at a perfected product.
NowThis News launched in September 2012 and was founded by former Huffington Post executives Ken Lerer*, Eric Hippeau and Bedrocket Media’s Brian Bedol. Its has raised $9.6 million.
Here are a few examples of news you can watch on its Instagram channel.
*Ken Lerer is invested in Business Insider
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