Disney Plus seems to be gearing up for a second lockdown with its new update. As soon as today, it will be rolling out a watching party option called GroupWatch to its subscribers in the United States after testing the feature in other countries.
GroupWatch will be similar to Amazon Prime Videos’ watch party feature and the unofficial Netflix Party Chrome extension and will work on any device including web, mobile, smart TVs, and connected TV devices like Roku and Amazon Fire TV users, according to The Verge.
Up to seven people, each with their own Disney Plus subscription, will be able to participate in a group watching party for any titles on the platform. Interestingly, each subscriber will be able to control the playback options for everybody and they’ll be able to react to scenes and moments with six different emojis (including sad, happy, angry, shocked, etc.).
For now, there will be no instant messaging option through Disney Plus. Honestly, this seems like a missed opportunity, especially since social viewing involves chatting as well as watching. But, Jerrell Jimerson, the chief product officer for Disney Plus, told TechCrunch that “there are other opportunities to integrate communication capabilities, but we haven’t shared any timing on those things.” Besides, there’s nothing stopping watchers from using their group chat on another device to communicate while watching for now.
While the new feature rolls out in America today, it’s expected to become available for the platform’s European subscribers later in the fall.
Jimerson also told TechCrunch that GroupWatch has been in the works since before the pandemic, but the company “worked to accelerate it given the realities of COVID.” It looks like That’s So Raven marathons and Lion King viewings are going to be the winter’s answer to Zoom quizzes. No complaints here.