Facebook is expanding Watch Party, its co-viewing feature that lets users watch videos together in real time, to all Pages and profiles, the company announced on Tuesday.
The company said in a blog post there have been 12 million Watch Parties since the feature was first added to Groups in July. Now, all of Facebook’s 2.2 billion users can create a Watch Party and simultaneously check out videos with their friends. And Pages, aiming to drive more viewer engagement, will also be able to coordinate Watch Parties around specific clips.
One new wrinkle Facebook added on Tuesday: Watch Party hosts can go live picture-in-picture on one of their videos, allowing viewers to immediately watch their reactions to clips. Shaquille O’Neal is going to test the feature out on Wednesday night when he hosts a Watch Party around “Big Chicken Shaq,” a Facebook Watch show centered around a Las Vegas restaurant he owns.
By launching Watch Party, Facebook is aiming to jumpstart communal viewing of videos and drive more viewers to its shows. Facebook’s TV portal has failed to resonate with audiences since it launched last year, although some of its shows like “Ball in the Family” and “Sorry For Your Loss” have enjoyed minor success. Watch Parties will also include comment threads, akin to Twitter, which will make it easier to track conversations.
At a time when teens are turning away from Facebook, Watch Party look to capitalize on “shared experiences” — something CEO Mark Zuckerberg has stressed in the past.
“We can look at many activities through the lens of building community,” Zuckerberg said last year. “Watching video of our favorite sports team or TV show, reading our favorite newspaper, or playing our favorite game are not just entertainment or information but a shared experience and opportunity to bring together people who care about the same things. We can design these experiences not for passive consumption but for strengthening social connections.”