Instagram is now copying Snapchat’s Live Stories with events video channels

Instagram's new feature collects videos around live events into a single stream like Snapchat's version, but tailors them to each user, unlike Snapchat's.

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For the second time this month, Instagram is rolling out its own version of one of Snapchat’s most popular features.

This time that feature is Snapchat’s Live Stories, which are channels appearing in its Discover tab that collect videos and photos people publicly post from live events. On Tuesday, Instagram announced a new feature called events video channels, which are channels appearing in its Explore tab that collect videos people publicly post from live events.

Instagram's personalized event channels will appear in the Explore tab and curate videos people post from live events.

Instagram’s personalized event channels will appear in the Explore tab and curate videos people post from live events.

As with Instagram’s appropriation of Snapchat’s Stories feature two weeks ago, Instagram has made a near-identical clone of Snapchat’s Live Stories feature. And for good reason. In both examples, Instagram has taken something that made Snapchat special and turned into a commodity. But not only that, it’s opened those features up to the 300 million people who use Instagram each day, which is double the number of people that use Snapchat each day. That means at least 150 million of these people haven’t found a good enough reason to use Snapchat regularly. And if Instagram offers the same thing as Snapchat, but on a service they already use, why use Snapchat?

But as with its clone of Snapchat’s Stories, Instagram is putting an algorithmic twist on its rival’s Live Stories feature, seemingly in hopes of creating some competitive separation. Aside from showing local Live Stories to people who are in the vicinity, Snapchat’s Live Stories aren’t very tailored to each member of its audience. Instagram’s are.

Instagram will personalize the live events it curates into a channel for each individual user, based on what it thinks that person would be most interested in seeing. So if you follow Adele on Instagram and live in Los Angeles, where she just performed a concert, then you’ll probably see people’s videos from that concert in your channel. But someone else who lives in Los Angeles, doesn’t follow Adele but does follow the Dodgers, might see clips from last night’s game instead.

With such a close comparison between the two companies’ products, the content appears to be what will raise one over the other. Unless Snapchat starts customizing which Live Stories it shows to each individual like Instagram is doing, its point of difference will have to be picking out better, if not more, events than Instagram, as well as better clips from those events. And even though Instagram is personalizing its live events channels, it will still need to curate quality feeds to keep people’s interest and steal some attention from Snapchat.

Individual events will receive their own channels within people’s Explore tabs, which can feature multiple event channels simultaneously. Each channel can be displayed for up to 48 hours, but for now they won’t feature ads, according to an Instagram spokesperson.

If you’re in the US, you should be able to check out these event video channels shortly, if not already. For folks outside of the US, Instagram just says to sit tight. “We’re working to bring this experience to the rest of the world soon,” the company said in a blog post announcing the new channels.

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About the author

Tim Peterson
Tim Peterson, Third Door Media's Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat's ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar's attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon's ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube's programming strategy, Facebook's ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking's rise; and documented digital video's biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed's branded video production process and Snapchat Discover's ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands' early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo's and Google's search designs and examine the NFL's YouTube and Facebook video strategies.

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