Published: Sat, January 20, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Ellis Neal

Facebook launches new feature 'Watch Party'

Facebook launches new feature 'Watch Party'

Facebook rolled out the new feature to "a handful of Groups" on Wednesday, with an expanded rollout planned for some point in the future.

Facebook's watch party feature, now in testing within Facebook groups, lets lots of people simultaneously experience the same video.

The first feature part of Facebook's push towards increasing live content on its platforms is Watch Party, a new Facebook feature that lets users watch a video on Facebook at the same time, together. Starting today, select Groups will have access to "Watch Party", an experimental tool that creates a shared experience for multiple users. Previously, commenting on a public video felt like trying to yell into an infinitely loud public square.

Simo claims the decision to begin testing Watch Party on groups was a natural one.

"The Watch Party viewing experience is special because of the people you are watching with". While you view, comments roll in overlaid on mobile like with Live, or in the sidebar on desktop. (For now, you can't schedule it in advance.) When a party is taking place, members will see a Watch Party widget on the group page.

The idea isn't far from what former Facebook president Sean Parker tried with the relaunch of his flopped startup Airtime. The closest thing Facebook had to built to this before was screensharing in its Workplace chat product. "We've found that communities formed around video like TV shows or sports create a greater sense of belonging than many other kinds of communities". The goal is to make watching videos a fun, social experience rather than a passive one, the company said. As soon as you join, you'll see the same video everyone else is watching.

"Time spent is not a goal by itself".

Facebook says its Live videos are wildly popular and generate around six times the interaction other videos do. Perhaps driven by a lack of interest in or even awareness of the video tab, the social media firm has announced a new feature for it called Watch Party. There's also a "play next" queue, where live viewers can see which video is about to pay next.

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