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Hulu officially launches its co-viewing feature, Watch Party – TechCrunch

Hulu’s social viewing feature, Watch Party, has now launched to all on-demand subscribers, the company announced today. The co-viewing feature was first introduced during the earlier days of the pandemic in 2020, allowing Hulu users to watch shows together from different locations, as well as chat and react to what they’re watching in a group chat interface on the side of the screen.

Initially, the feature was only made available to Hulu’s “No Ads” subscribers before being tested with Hulu’s ad-supported subscribers in a more limited capacity. To celebrate the Season 2 premiere of Hulu Original “Pen15,” the company had offered the Watch Party experience to its ad-supported customers for 10 days, starting on September 18.

In November, Hulu began testing the Watch Party feature with election news live streams — the first time it had offered co-viewing with its live content.

Today, Hulu says Watch Party is no longer in a “test” phase, and is now officially available to both sets of on-demand customers, including those on its commercial-free and ad-supported plans alike.

At launch, Watch Party works across thousands of on-demand titles from Hulu’s library. This includes not only Hulu’s own original content but also other licensed and broadcast programs like “The Golden Girls,” “This Is Us,” “Family Guy” and “The Bachelorette” — all of which Hulu said had been popular titles for Watch Party during the testing period.

To use Watch Party, you’ll look for the new Watch Party icon that appears on a title’s detail page on Hulu.com. This will provide a link that you can then share with up to seven other Hulu subscribers, age 18 or older. The experience doesn’t require a browser plugin, but works directly on the Hulu website itself.

As the program plays, users can chat and react with emoji in the group chat window, or even pause the viewing experience if they need to take a quick break. This won’t pause the stream for other viewers, as with some other co-watching experiences — instead, the user can rejoin the group and stay behind others or they can use a “Click to Catch Up” button in the chat window to get back in sync.

Co-watching has been a popular pandemic activity as people looked for ways to stay connected with friends and family when they couldn’t spend time in person. In addition to Hulu, Amazon Prime Video launched co-viewing and Twitch launched its own Watch Parties. HBO teamed up with Scener, Plex launched Watch Together and Instagram and Facebook rolled out co-viewing too. Netflix users still have to use third-party tools, however.

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