The weather’s getting colder, the pandemic isn’t going anywhere, and you still need a way to watch stuff with your pals. Disney+ just became the latest streaming service to offer a way to do that.
The company that once traded a real human man to NBC for the rights to a cartoon rabbit announced Tuesday that Disney+ is getting a new “GroupWatch” feature. As its name implies, GroupWatch lets as many as seven friends (who all have their own Disney+ logins) watch shows or movies together remotely. Unlike the majority of group streaming apps, it works on phones, computers, and TVs (through smart TV apps or streaming devices). GroupWatch starts rolling out Tuesday.
According to Disney, all you have to do is go to the Details page for a piece of content on Disney+ and press the new GroupWatch button there. Mobile and web users can then start a room and send out invites to others; those can be accepted and used on TVs by folks who prefer to watch movies on living displays they spent hundreds of dollars on.
Once a stream is started, anyone in the room can control playback, and it’ll sync automatically for everyone else. If you need to answer the door or use the bathroom, just pause. No need to ask permission. The last thing to know is that you can react using six different emojis by opening the Disney+ mobile app during a stream. There does not appear to be built-in text or video chat.
Support for TVs is probably the biggest draw here. Many group streaming apps, like Hulu Watch Party and Amazon Prime Watch Party, are still locked to web browsers. It makes sense as a technical limitation, but that’s just not how lots of folks watch things. Emojis may not be sufficient for expressing thoughts, however, so anyone who uses Disney+ GroupWatch should probably keep the group text at the ready to fire off hot takes.
Regardless, you can finally watch Brink and The Shaggy D.A. with your friends. If that’s not good news, I don’t know what is.