How can the OTT Watch Party feature aid people to stay connected with each other online.
At the start of the global pandemic, underdog video sharing Apps such as Houseparty saw massive surges in downloads, along with Zoom and Skype experiencing more usage rates. Research has shown that these peaks in downloads and usage rates are a result of users trying to stay connected to family and friends during the pandemic.
During the Pandemic, when referencing video sharing Apps, Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp took a backseat to Apps such as Googlemeet, Zoom and Houseparty. Facebook noticed that video calling has become a legitimate form of social interaction and released a rival App “Messenger Rooms”.
In the OTT industry Video Sharing and Live Chats are more commonly referred to as ‘Watch Parties’.
BT Sport, Dazn and Now TV (hong kong) all offer video sharing solutions for their customers allowing them to enjoy online content with each other in private video sharing rooms.
Netflix and Prime Video also offer the Watch Party feature however video sharing is not available. The development of ‘Watch Parties’ presents movements in the OTT industry towards improving the human interaction between online users, something that normally resides with social media platforms.
Platforms such as Twitch, youtube and other social media platforms have already delved into the development of having a connected experience online with their Live Streams, however users can only comment on content, rather than experience something privately with friends and family.
OTT platforms are looking to create something more intimate and personal than a standard live chat feature. Being able to watch, chat, talk and create private rooms while content is playing creates a more personal and private atmosphere.
The idea for Watch Party is to have ‘the next best thing’ to experiencing content together without actually being together. Prime Video markets their watch party as being ‘the next best thing to going to the Cinema’. Dazn’s message is ‘you can enjoy Live Sports with your friends without having to buy the tickets to the game’.
Why Watch Party is worth investing in
The tech industry is always looking for the next award winning way to impress their users. The most effective way to ensure successful ideas in the industry is to ask what users are missing. During the pandemic it became very apparent that OTT platforms are not offering people enough human connection; in fact it encourages the complete opposite.
Companies are now looking at more innovative ways to help people feel present with one another even when they’re not in the same place. Today video helps most of us bridge the distance, companies are also looking at immersive platforms like AR and VR to aid the way in connecting users from home to home.
With VR and AR still in its early stages of user consumption Netflix thought of making a proof of concept and came with a “Netflix Party” (now Teleparty) which is purely a Chrome extension that enables users to watch content together on the web. The idea was successful with the feature receiving more than 10 million downloads (which is a tenth of their total subscribers).
Nearly one-fifth of U.S. adults 18+ have tried a “Watch Party”. It’s worth noting that close to half of all age groups say they’ve never heard of watch parties before, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect poorly on what was deemed a niche behavior prior to the pandemic. Close to two-thirds of those having a watch party said they had another one within a month, suggesting the behavior is beginning to catch on.
Watch Parties have limitless bounds in the OTT industry, users can not only experience Live Events, such as Music gigs, Sports Events and Theatre together, it can also be used for educational and fitness purposes as well. The opportunity to involve multiple users while watching content can improve the way courses are taught and experienced online.
What video sharing solutions do companies offer users today?
Even though the Watch Party feature is not yet a household name, many OTT companies have jumped at the opportunity to offer the feature to their customer base.
- BT Sport launched its Watch Together feature powered by Scenic for the return of the English Premier League in 2020.
- Now TV in Hong Kong launched its watch party feature for UEFA Euros 2020.
- Prime Video offers all of its users the feature to Watch Together since 2020, but does not offer video sharing.
- Netflix has a chrome extension called Tele party but again does not offer video sharing.
- Dazn offers watch parties to its customers with the option to chat, send emojis and video share.
It’s clear that the feature is gathering traction however, some of the industry’s biggest giants are not offering all of the features you would expect from a ‘Watch Party’. Without video sharing the connectivity and intimate nature to the idea gets lost and seems like just another marketing stunt to gain subscribers.
DIAGNAL has built an extendable and flexible video sharing solution.
DIAGNAL believes in evolving around the latest tech trends and introducing premium features for its clients and end-users. We tailor our platforms around end-user expectations, enriching them with both trending and required features.
We offer a Watch Party full with various engagements. We not only consider the user interface but also interactive features to enhance the user experience.
DIAGNAL Watch Party solution has a wide device coverage from Web to Mobile Platforms, it does not require any type of extension, it simply requires a user to click on a Watch Party icon available on the Details and Player Page.
It’s essential that DIAGNAL offers users the opportunity to connect to watch parties on mobile as well as laptops, as OTT platforms receive heavy usage on handheld devices. We offer Watch Party for Video on Demand and Live Streaming content.
On top of that, we support audio, video, and chat facilities so participants can react to moments together. Our solution can accommodate up to 20 individuals and we have some additional user features in which the host can mute/unmute or kick out someone from the party along with full DRM support.
All of DIAGNAL’s features come with a design adaptability concept in which anything can be customized based on the customer requirements.
The Watch Party feature is undeniably a step forward for the OTT industry and with the development of AR and VR alongside it, questions about the future of consuming content are endless.
Watch Party for Sports Providers is starting to evolve into an essential feature with most companies offering the feature already. Even though the feature has not yet gained star traction on entertainment platforms, with the movements towards releasing blockbuster films to OTT platforms earlier and earlier it’s hard to disagree with the value of offering a ‘Cinema like’ experience at home.