Hulu Tests 'Watch Party' Feature for Ad-Free Social Viewing

Groups of up to eight people 18 or older can co-view TV shows or movies on Hulu using Watch Party, with a chat window enabling conversation during the show.

The Disney-owned streaming operation said the test is open-ended.

The feature is arriving as popular offerings like the Google Chrome extension Netflix Party have taken off during shutdowns related to COVID-19. A startup called Scener recently set a deal with HBO to implement its co-viewing technology on the WarnerMedia network’s streaming platforms. Multi-media platform Plex on Thursday launched Watch Together, a new co-viewing feature for on-demand Plex content as well as titles in users’ personal media libraries.

Hulu users with access to the test can launch it via a Watch Party icon on the Details pages of shows and movies in the on-demand library. They will then get a link to invite family and friends to join.

Viewers will also have the ability to control their own playback without impacting the group. Anyone hitting pause or lagging the group due to a poor internet connection can rejoin the party by hitting a button in the chat window marked “click to catch up.”

Hulu says “thousands” of movies and TV shows are eligible for communal viewing, as indicated by a Watch Party icon appearing in their details page.

The feature also works on PC and Mac computers via Hulu-compatible browsers, with no plug-in or extension required.

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