Hulu has expanded its Watch Party feature — letting you watch TV shows and movies in groups of up to eight people — to all of its subscribers.
The Disney-controlled streamer first launched Watch Party in May, initially available only to subs on the $11.99/month no-ads plan. Now, Hulu has opened it up to customers on the $5.99/month entry-level package with ads as well.
According to Hulu, over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, customers hosted a record number of watch parties as many subscribers co-streamed original rom-com film “Happiest Season” — which the company says broke viewing records. Hulu original series “Pen15” and episodes of “The Bachelorette” also have been popular titles for Watch Party during the initial testing period.
For streaming platforms, watch parties have been a quarantine-driven hit, with Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video and Yahoo Sports among those that have recently introduced such watch-together features. In addition, Scener, a startup that launched two years ago, now offers co-watching for 10 services, and web-based service Teleparty (formerly Netflix Party) currently supports watch parties on Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus and HBO Max.
The strategy behind the watch party features isn’t a mystery: Hulu and others promoting the concept hope that it can lead to incremental subscriber growth, given that everyone participating must have a valid account.
To use Hulu’s Watch Party, users select the “Watch Party” icon on each title’s Details page and then share a link with up to seven other Hulu subscribers to join. (Viewers must be 18 or older to access the feature.) While watching, group members can react in real-time through the chat function and control their own playback. The feature for now is available only on the web-browser version of Hulu.
Hulu had 36.6 million subscribers (up 28% year over year) as of Oct. 3, the end of Disney’s fiscal fourth quarter. Of those, 32.5 million (89%) were on SVOD-only plans with the remainder taking SVOD with live TV.
Hulu’s on-demand streaming library includes full seasons of hit shows like “Family Guy,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “This Is Us” and “The Golden Girls,” films like “Trolls World Tour” and originals including “Pen15,” “Little Fires Everywhere,” “Ramy,” “Animaniacs” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.”