Facebook Messenger has announced the release of Watch Together – a new feature inside the app that lets you view videos from Facebook Watch, while also seeing a live video of your friends.
The new feature is free and was rolled out globally this week on iOS and Android. It allows users to swipe up on a video call or Messenger Room and tap the new Watch Together option.
Facebook says there are now 150 million video calls on Messenger a day, and that people send 200 million videos to one another daily.
How Watch Together Works
To get the Watch Together feature up and running, users will need to start a Messenger video call or create a Messenger Room. Then, you can swipe up to access the menu and select Watch Together.
“It’s really getting more and more visual, and it continues to grow very, very fast,” said Stan Chudnovsky, who runs Messenger, in an interview with The Verge.
From here, you can select a video suggested for you or choose from a category, such as ‘TV & Movies,’ ‘Watched’, ‘or ‘Uploaded.’
Unlike some streaming websites, this new feature isn’t very limited with the number of people you can watch videos with. You can watch clips with up to eight people on a Messenger video call and up to 50 people in Rooms.
Image from Facebook
Is This The New Way To Stay Social?
Since the COVID-19 swept across the globe in the early months of 2020, many people have had to stay locked indoors for long periods of time. And to continue profitable growth (and, of course, help the consumer) major tech brands have been coming up with new ways for us to stay social whilst isolating.
In Facebook’s Watch Together announcement, Nora Micheva, Product Manager at Facebook, explains why they created the feature:
“To make spending quality time with friends and loved ones feel as close to an in-person experience as possible.” Micheva continues “The feature allows you to watch your friends’ reactions at the same time.”
During the pandemic, consumption of all types of media has surged across the globe – and with features like Watch Together, at least it adds a little more human connection in a detached time.
Data from Statista
Joint video consumption is perhaps the most popular new app feature of 2020. Earlier this week, Disney Plus introduced its own version, GroupWatch, following the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Twitch.
Although Facebook has been late to the game compared to these streaming sites, it’s the first major social media site to add in the feature.
Will This Last Post-Pandemic?
There’s a lot of debate as to whether life will be different in a post-COVID world. There’s no denying that tech giants have certainly benefited from people being stuck at home – and we’ve seen a lot of new developments as a result.
Most companies are set to work from home until January 2021, but even once people are sent back, there’s still likely to be restrictions on how many people can be in one room. So, features like Watch Together might well be here to stay.