After a few weeks of testing in Canada and other territories, Disney+ is officially launching its GroupWatch feature in the U.S. today, making the Disney-owned streaming service the latest to join the watch party craze.
Up to seven people can join a Disney+ watch party, with the feature supported across all Disney+ platforms, including iOS, Android, and web browsers, as well as streaming players and smart TVs with the Disney+ app.
GroupWatch will be available for the entire Disney+ library, but all members of the watch party must be Disney+ subscribers. Disney+ costs $6.99 a month.
To launch a GroupWatch, you just tap or click the GroupWatch icon on the Details page for a Disney+ movie or TV show. GroupWatch invitations can only “originate” from a web browser or a phone, but once the invitations have been sent, you can watch from any streaming device or a smart TV.
Each member of a Disney+ GroupWatch can pause, play, rewind, or fast forward the video, but interacting with co-watching friends is limited to just six emoji: “Like,” “Funny,” “Sad,” “Angry,” “Scared,” and “Surprised.”
Disney+ started testing GroupWatch in Canada on September 10, then expanded the test to Australia and New Zealand about a week later. For now, the official GroupWatch launch is only happening in the U.S., although Disney+ says it will bring the feature to Europe later this fall.
Sling TV, which launched its watch party mode just last week, stands apart from the pack by allowing co-watching friends to interact via picture-in-picture video chat, although it only allows four people in a watch party at a time. Amazon Prime Video and Hulu offer both text chat and emotes but no video chat, while Plex doesn’t support any interaction at all.
Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices. You can follow Ben on Twitter.