After rolling out access to Direct messages via the web last week, Instagram is now also giving users the option to view Instagram Live broadcasts on desktop PCs, which comes with a new, less intrusive format, and URLs to cross-promote your streams.
As you can see in this image, shared by Android Police, when viewing Instagram Live streams on the web, you get a compressed view, in line with vertical, mobile presentation, but it also separates the comments and video, displaying them side-by-side. That means that while you're not utilizing the full-screen, you are, arguably, getting a better viewing experience because your view is not being impeded by comments that scroll up on the video.
Providing desktop access also adds another important element - a separate URL for your live broadcasts. That means that when you do go live, you can now cross-promote your stream on other platforms, with a direct link, as opposed to simply directing your fans to head over to Instagram to check out your stream. Previously, this wasn't possible, because there was no URL to link to during a stream - though you could, technically, still obtain the link when sharing via message.
Given the majority of people have to stay at home right now amid the COVID-19 lockdowns, a lot more people are viewing video content on their desktop PCs, so it makes sense for Instagram to capitalize on that potential, and expand the viewing options for Live.
Many celebrities are also using Instagram Live to connect with fans amid the COVID-19 pandemic - musician Diddy, for example, has been running isolation dance parties to raise money for charities via Instagram Live.
Giving people more ways to connect to Live will likely get even more people tuning in, which will subsequently lead to more people broadcasting. And while IG Live may only allow for a single guest in a stream, it does also enable broadcast - so while you are able to get a lot more people into, say, a Zoom meeting, you can't share that live video with all of your fans and followers the way you can an Instagram stream.
It'll be interesting to see how many people do end up tuning in via desktop, and whether more users consider Instagram streaming as a result of the added option.
Instagram chief Adam Mosseri also recently noted that the platform has more plans in the works to help support creators and artists using Live, likely including the new donation and support options it has in development. That could make Instagram Live an even more significant consideration - we'll keep you updated on any progress on this front.