Amazon Prime Video is starting to roll out co-viewing functionality for Amazon Prime members in the United States, the company announced today. The “Watch Party” feature, which is included at no additional cost with a Prime subscription, allows participants to watch video content together while playing synchronized with the host account.
The host of the co-observation session will be able to start, stop and pause the Watch Party as needed throughout the session, and these changes will also be synchronized to the devices of all participants instantly.
Each session can also support up to 100 participants – as long as these participants also have a Prime subscription (or a Prime video subscription) and watch from the United States
While the video is playing, users can socialize with other participants via a built-in chat feature that supports both text and built-in emojis.
At launch, Watch Party is offered via Prime Video on the desktop and is supported on thousands of titles in the Prime Video SVOD catalog (video on demand subscription). This includes third-party content provided with Prime as well as Amazon Originals such as “Fleabag”, “The Marvelous Mrs Maisel”, “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan”, “HANNA”, “Mindy Kaling’s Late Night”, “Donald Glover’s Guava Island,” ” Troop Zero “,” The Big Sick “,” The Boys “,” Homecoming “,” My Spy “and others.
Titles available only for rental or purchase are not available in Watch Party at this time, Amazon said.
To get started with Watch Party, customers click the new Watch Party icon on the movie or show page on the Prime Video desktop website. They then receive a link that they can share with their friends and family as they wish. Recipients who click on the link will then join the session and can chat with others.
Amazon says the new feature was designed as a native experience for Prime Video.
The company is the latest streaming service to deploy integrated support for co-viewing – something that became popular during the coronavirus pandemic as people spent more time at home.
While the U.S. was protecting itself from coronavirus locks, a browser extension called Netflix Party went viral. Soon all the streamers wanted to participate in this action. HBO, for example, has partnered with the maker of browser extensions Scener to provide a “virtual theater” experience for co-monitoring that supports up to 20 people.
Hulu recently launched its own native Watch Party feature for its “No Ads” subscribers on Hulu.com. Multimedia software maker Plexa also rolled out co-monitoring support around the same time.
Amazon, however, had already offered a way to co-watch some of its Prime Video titles before today. Its Twitch game streaming site featured Watch Parties this spring on over 70 Amazon Prime Video titles. The new native experience deployed now offers a wider selection and has the potential to expand to more markets in the future.
If you don’t see Watch Party yet, you’ll get it soon, as the functionality is just starting to roll out more widely.
Amazon would not comment on its future plans for Watch Party. When asked about the upcoming roadmap, the company will say that it will only introduce functionality when it is ready for customers.