Facebook has been testing social video co-viewing in Messenger, according to code snippets discovered by Twitter user Ananay Arora. The feature seems to be similar to Facebook’s Watch Party, which launched globally this summer.
— Ananay (@ananayarora) November 14, 2018
In Messenger, the new feature allows users to invite their friends to watch a video together. Once multiple users start watching a video, all of them can control the playback of the clip, and also add additional videos to their chat. Obviously, there’s also an option to chat about a video that’s currently playing.
Facebook told Techcrunch that it is testing the feature internally right now, but didn’t give any further indications about possible launch plans.
Co-viewing has long been a tough nut to crack. Countless startups have tried and failed to get users to watch videos together, and even big platforms like YouTube have struggled to make collaborative video viewing work.
The biggest roadblock has been to actually get people together at the same time to watch videos. Facebook’s Messenger doesn’t necessarily have that problem, as people are already chatting with their friends in real-time.
Bringing video viewing to the app could also help Facebook solve another problem it has been working on: making video more of an engaging, social experience.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has long said that the company wants to move away from passive video viewing in users’ feeds. Instead, the company is looking to make video viewing more intent-driven. Part of that has been the launch of its dedicated Facebook Watch video vertical. But while Watch is still primarily about lean-back viewing, co-viewing in Messenger could be a way to actually make video more engaging and social.