For years, Facebook has been focusing on making video an integral part of its service. More specifically, it’s been working to make video a source of consistent revenue, which is not an easy thing to do when sites like YouTube and Twitch dominate the space. Today, the company announced a new feature that aims to bring a sense of community to watching videos on Facebook, and it’s called Watch Party.
The idea is pretty straightforward: with Watch Party, members of any and all Facebook Groups can watch videos together in real time. It doesn’t matter if you just want to watch one video or multiple with your group – the group administrator can add additional videos while the Watch Party is in progress to keep it going, and they can even control playback to rewatch segments that some viewers may have missed.
Of course, one of the main draws of Watch Party is that it allows group members to chat with others as they watch. That gives Facebook an ever-important edge over YouTube, which doesn’t allow real time chatting unless it’s on a livestream.
Watch Party has been in testing for a while now, but today Facebook is rolling it out to all Groups. It’s launching with two new features as well: co-hosting, which allows the Watch Party host to “designate other co-hosts who can add videos and keep the party going,” and crowdsourcing, which allows viewers to suggest videos to add to a Watch Party playlist.
Eventually, Facebook would like to roll Watch Party out to Pages and individual profiles, and while that expanded functionality is entering testing now, there’s no timeline for its release. In the end, the goal is to get people to spend more time on Facebook, and Watch Parties could very well accomplish that. Whether or not it’ll be enough to chip away at YouTube’s dominance, however, is another question entirely.