Earlier this month, Disney+ started testing a new co-watching feature called “GroupWatch” with subscribers in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Starting today, Disney+ subscribers in the U.S. will now be able to use the GroupWatch feature as well.
The feature allows for seven people to watch at a time, with emojis to make the experience more interactive. Each person in the group equal access to video playback, which means everyone can play and pause at will.
While there is no chat feature at the outset, we have heard this is a feature they are looking to add.
GroupWatch is available on streaming players like Roku, Fire TV, and Apple TV, as well as Smart TVs, mobile devices, and your computer. The feature will be rolling out to devices throughout the day, so you may not see it right away.
“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, SVP Product Management for Disney+.
How to Start a Disney+ GroupWatch
When you go to a Disney+ movie or show page, there will be an icon to select “GroupWatch” mode next to the “Watch List” button.
Once you click that icon, it will generate a link that you can share with family and friends. Those who receive a link can join the party. If the recipient doesn’t have a Disney+ account, they are led to a sign-up page instead.
After you join a WatchParty, you will be able to play, rewind, pause, or fast-forward and keep everyone in sync.
The are a few limitations with the feature. It doesn’t allow users to be in multiple watch parties at the same time. Moreover, if you receive shared content, you can only view it if its available in your region or in the case of Premier Access, if you already purchased the film.
The Group Watch feature also comes with some stipulations for kids as well. For one, it doesn’t allow for a Kids profile to initiate a party. The feature also comes with pin code functionality, possibly created to stop children from entering into age-inappropriate watch parties.
Co-viewing experiences have been a major trend during the pandemic, with services like Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, while third-party services like Netflix Party and Scener have filled the void for Netflix and HBO respectively. Disney is also launching a co-viewing feature for Disney+.