Disney+ debuts GroupWatch co-viewing feature

Disney+ introduced GroupWatch, a new co-viewing feature that allows for up to seven people to watch together in a synced playback experience.

The company said the feature is available across web, mobile, connected TV devices and smart TVs. Subscribers can launch the experience through the GroupWatch icon found on the Details page of series and movies from the library on Disney+. Users will then be given a link to invite up to six other people to watch with them (Disney+ subscription required). Invitations must originate from mobile or web, but after that all users can watch from their connected TV devices or smart TVs.

“Storytelling comes alive when you’re able to share and enjoy it with others, and in this moment when many are still apart from their friends and family, GroupWatch offers a way to safely connect virtually by co-viewing your favorite Disney+ stories with your favorite people from the comfort of your living room,” said Jerrell B Jimerson, senior vice president of product management for Disney+, in a statement.

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GroupWatch’s synchronized playback means each participant can pause, play, rewind or fast forward, for the whole group. While watching, viewers can react with different emojis including “like,” “funny,” “sad,” “angry,” “scared” and “surprised” through the Disney+ app.

Disney+ launched a test version of GroupWatch in Canada on September 10 and in Australia and New Zealand on September 18 before making the feature live in the United States. GroupWatch is expected to expand to Europe later this fall.

Earlier this year, Disney began testing a similar Watch Party feature for Hulu. In May the company said it was testing the feature on Hulu.com for its Hulu (No Ads) subscribers. The feature is also compatible with PCs and Macs on Hulu compatible browsers, no plug-in or extension needed.

Hulu’s Watch Party feature functions differently than GroupWatch. While watching, viewers can use the chat function and control their own playback without impacting others in the group. There’s also a “Click to catch up” button in the chat window for users who fall behind.