Facebook’s rolling out a new feature that lets you and a bunch of friends in a Facebook Group watch videos together, even when you’re not physically together. As long as those videos are on Facebook.
The new Watch Party feature has been in testing for a little while, but now it’s being released to everyone. You can start a Watch Party in a Facebook Group and invite members of that group to watch with you. Once the party is created, you can add videos to a playlist. That playlist will start playing automatically as soon as a number of people have joined.
If you’re looking to share videos outside of Facebook, though, you’re out of luck. While services like Rabbit let you watch video from any source, Watch Party is just for Facebook video. This isn’t all that surprising (what motivation does Facebook have to promote watching Netflix, after all?), but it does limit how useful it can be. Watching videos as they come across your feed is one thing, but so far Facebook doesn’t have much in the way of a mechanism to sit down with the intent to watch something specific that you would invite other people to watch with you.
That’s partially why Facebook is experimenting with letting Pages host their own Watch Parties. With this, your favorite content creators could release episodes of their shows or have an event around watching a playlist of their greatest hits. You and several hundred of your closest strangers-with-a-shared-interest can tune in to watch together, which sounds pretty fun.
Overall, this is a good start to a feature that’s long overdue. Now if we could just get Netflix to make a version of this, we’ll be golden.