Instagram Introduces Reels Download Feature for US Users

In a bid to compete directly with its short-video app rival, TikTok, Instagram has launched the ability for users to download and share Reels outside of the platform. This feature, announced by CEO Adam Mosseri in an Instagram post spotted by TechCrunch, is currently exclusive to US users on mobile devices.

The much-awaited move helps bridge the gap between Instagram Reels and TikTok, as the latter has long allowed its users to download videos and share them across social media platforms. Instagram’s new feature could potentially increase the visibility of Reels content and draw more users to the app.

Downloading Public Reels Made Simple

According to Mosseri’s announcement, Reels can now be downloaded from public accounts only. To do so, users need to tap on the “Share” icon on a particular Reel and select “Download.” Notably, public account creators have the option to disable downloading for their Reels if desired.

While this feature is not yet available in other countries, including India, which boasts 229 million Instagram users alone as of January 2023 — it is expected that a global rollout may follow soon. This would enable billions of monthly active users across multiple regions to download their favorite Reels.

Watermarked Reels on Par with TikTok Format

Imitating TikTok’s approach, downloaded Reels will carry a watermark displaying the Instagram logo and account name of the creator. This might help eliminate cross-platform sharing of content. 

Additionally, Instagram stopped promoting watermarked content from rival platforms such as TikTok back in 2021.

In August last year, YouTube also introduced logo-based watermarks for its short-video product Shorts in an effort to curb cross-platform sharing. It seems that tech companies are now seeking ways to keep their content exclusive without limiting download options entirely.

Reels-driven Growth for Meta

Instagram Reels has been a significant contributor to the growth and revenue of parent company Meta. Mark Zuckerberg revealed during the Q1 2023 earnings call that time spent on Instagram grew by 24% thanks to AI-powered Reels recommendations.

With this new development, Instagram aims at not only replicating the success of TikTok’s content distribution model but also establishing Reels as a distinguished feature on its platform. As the demand for short-video content continues to rise, the race between TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube is likely to intensify in the coming months.

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