Facebook is now rolling out a new feature it calls Watch Party to Facebook Groups that will allow groups to get together and watch the same videos at the same time. That's according to a recent post on the social network from Fidji Simo, who currently holds the position of vice president of Product for Video at Facebook. Simo says that the company is putting the feature forward as a way to expand on the successes of Facebook Live, which she says has generated an average of six times more interaction than regular video posts. However, for the time being, it isn't going to be available for everybody.
With regard to details about the feature, video content shared with a Group will be chosen and added to the experience by a given Facebook Groups's administrators or moderators. As of this writing, the company appears to only allow video content that has been publicly shared on Facebook, whether live or recorded, to be viewed in the group. Other aspects of the Groups feature will remain intact throughout playback, allowing everybody engaged in the group to comment and react to chosen media in real-time – effectively providing the social network's users with a similar experience to watching a video together in person, regardless of the distances between participants. Simo says that Groups was chosen because around half of Facebook's users – approximately one billion people – use that feature on a monthly basis. The choice also makes sense given that Facebook Groups already had most of the groundwork for the Watch Party in place. So, there likely wasn't as much work required to incorporate it by comparison to creating an entirely new group chat, from the ground up, to carry the new feature.
Unfortunately, the feature will only show up for a "handful" of users to try out to start with and, because there is no longer a Facebook Groups application, it likely won't be made available on mobile. As with nearly every test feature, that's intended to give the feature's developers time to work out any bugs or problems in the programming and user interface. There's also no solid time frame that's been given with regard to when the feature will roll out more widely. With that said, it may be worth the wait as Facebook looks to bring features ordinarily found across multiple apps into a single platform.