Disney is now testing a new Disney+ feature called GroupWatch that enables up to six friends to share in the viewing experience with the person who invites them. The feature comes alongside a growing interest in mutual viewing experiences for streaming services, particularly during the pandemic when getting together with a group of friends is no longer an option. There are some big limitations at the moment, however.
Disney+ GroupWatch is exactly what it sounds like: a feature that enables the subscriber to invite a group of people (up to six) to watch a movie or TV show with them. This results in a synced experience so that every person is watching the same scene at the same time. One could, for example, start a video chat or voice call with participants to have a socially distanced movie night.
Redditors on the /r/DisneyPlus subreddit recently began reporting the presence of a GroupWatch option on a number of shows, but it quickly became apparent that only Canadian subscribers are seeing this feature…and even then, only a small number have access. Disney confirmed to The Verge that it is currently testing the feature in Canada, but that it plans to roll it out elsewhere in the future.
The GroupWatch feature will ultimately allow Disney+ subscribers to watch any content on the platform with their friends, but the catch is that each person must have a subscription to participate. Users can start a GroupWatch by clicking the icon on the content page, then clicking the ‘+’ button to invite friends. Once everyone has joined, the person who started the GroupWatch can start the stream.
The Disney+ website has a new help document related to GroupWatch, which includes all of the relevant details. According to the document, viewers are able to send ‘reactions’ to content using their computer or mobile device; these reactions will show up on the screen for other viewers to see, helping them feel the shared experience.