Facebook’s Testing a New Communal Video Viewing Option for Groups called “Watch Party”

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Live videos on Facebook generate six times more discussion, and Watch Party could bring that to recorded videos, but with a more intimate vibe since your comments won’t get lost in a raging river of discourse. Previously, commenting on a public video felt like trying to yell into an infinitely loud public square.

 

Watch Party could make people feel heard, making Facebook a better second-screen. Facebook’s head of video Fidji Simo says that “Watching, commenting and reacting to the same moments together  helps build the kind of community and engagement we’ve seen with Live.”

 

The ability to share end engage with an active viewing audience is a big draw, and along with rising group video trends – like multi-participant live-streaming – it could be a growth area for other platforms.

Which is why Facebook’s looking to add in their own variation.

 

To start a Watch Party, group moderators select one or more videos and post it inside the group. (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. As soon as you join, you’ll see the same video everyone else is watching.

 

“When done well, video brings us closer together” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Facebook’s Q3 earnings call. “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 . . . But too often right now, watching video is just a passive consumption experience.” That’s in part why Facebook recently announced a massive overhaul to the News Feed that will see it show fewer videos and public publisher content in favor of friends and stories that get you to comment.

 

As noted, the idea taps into the popularity of communal video viewing – Google launched a similar tool last year called ‘Uptime’ which enables users to watch and react to YouTube videos with their friends.

 

Watch Party will first roll out to a “handful of Groups”, with further expansion after that. There are no plans to extend the option any further at this stage, though there does seem to be significant potential in various group settings. 

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