Facebook seems convinced that people want to watch videos together online, and there are various trends to support this - the growth of social video in general, the rise of communal video connection (in apps like Houseparty and Facebook Messenger) and the huge uptick in real-time interactions on live-stream content.
But do people really want to watch pre-recorded videos together on Facebook?
We'll soon find out, as this week, The Social Network is rolling out its 'Watch Party' communal video viewing option to all people and Pages, which enables users and admins to schedule a time to view any video, and invite people along to watch and comment with them.
Facebook started testing Watch Party back in January, beginning with Groups, before expanding it to selected Pages and even profiles in recent weeks.
And according to Facebook, Watch Parties do indeed boost video engagement:
"Since launch, there have been more than 12 million Watch Parties in Groups, and Watch Parties garner eight times as many comments than non-live videos in Groups. The number of daily Watch Parties in Groups has continued to grow, increasing 7x since July."
So there does seem to be good reason why Facebook's pushing its communal video viewing options. In addition to this, Facebook has also launched 'Premieres' for group video viewing (announced last month), and is testing a communal video viewing option in Messenger to tap into the same.
Now it just needs to get more people watching Watch content in general, which its also working on with a new content push.
In addition to the global rollout of Watch Party, Facebook's also looking to add some new features to improve the option.
First off, Facebook will now enable Pages and groups to schedule a Watch Party, which will help to drive participation, and help users discover Watch Parties they might be interested in. Facebook's also looking to add threaded comments to make it easier for people to interact and have conversations within a Watch Party stream.
But this last one may be the most interesting - Facebook's also testing a feature called 'Live Commentating', which would enable a host to live-stream themselves within a Watch Party video and share commentary as the video plays.
That could be great for celebrity insights into programs/movies, while it could also provide a new way for businesses to host product launches or similar, using their experts as video guides of sorts, and enabling them to answer questions in real time.
There's a range of ways Watch Parties could be used, and the addition, based on the aforementioned stats, makes a lot of sense. For marketers, Watch Party opens up a range of new considerations for promotion and group connection, expanding the real-time engagement of live-stream content to all other video formats. used creatively, it could be a great way to help build audience/brand affiliation, and increase engagement and reach.
Watch Party is being rolled out to all Pages and profiles from today.