Facebook has now rolled out a new feature called Watch Party, where a bunch of users can watch videos together simultaneously — as in, their video streams will be synced so they can all react to what's happening in real-time even if they're miles apart.
Each Watch Party session includes a host who's tasked to add videos to the queue and manage playback. There can be more than one host in a single party, though. Participants may suggest videos to add, but they won't be able to play them.
Facebook Watch Party
For now, Watch Parties may only be started within Groups and not Pages, and the videos must be hosted by Facebook itself, though it doesn't matter whether they're live or pre-recorded. Long story short, users can only watch videos that are already uploaded to Facebook. They can't add videos from other sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, or elsewhere.
The social media company first announced Watch Party this past January. Facebook has invested heavily in its Watch platform, which is dedicated to videos, so it's not that surprising to see that it's adding a bunch of additional features to make it more robust. As The Verge notes, it's kind of hard to imagine anyone desiring to watch videos with their random groups. In any case, Facebook says it introduced the feature so people can have more of an interactive experience while watching videos instead of a passive one.
"We've been focused on building new ways to bring people together around video, create connections, and ignite conversations; Watch Party is the next step in bringing this vision to life," the company wrote in a blog post.
Why Facebook Watch Parties Are Important
Facebook says that during the test period for Watch Party, it saw highly engaged members often generating thousands of comments while watching videos together. There were even some groups that spent over 10 hours just for a single Watch Party session. The feature can be useful for smaller communities too, according to the company. For example, one Watch Party with just 10 participants generated 500 comments.
"Some describe how this shared viewing experience can be used to bridge distance between close friends and family when they can't physically be together."
Again, the feature is currently limited to Groups, but Facebook says it's on its way to implementing it into Pages. Pages integration simply isn't quite ready yet, and the company didn't say when it'll roll out.
Now, if only Netflix introduces a similar feature.