May 19, 2020
While personal events will be interrupted for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19, connecting via streaming video is the next replacement we have and is quickly gaining in importance. Co-watching adds another element to this commitment, and platforms quickly jump to be the first to mark their territory during this time.
Here are two recent examples that have emerged recently and are particularly noteworthy:
Celebrity-Fronted Event Series by Houseparty
In the last week of March alone House party – The video chat app sensation from Fortnite developer Epic Games 2 million downloads worldwideAccording to App Annie, there were around 130,000 in the same week a month ago. It is currently number one in the Apple App Store in 17 countries, including the UK, Spain and Italy.
Houseparty recently launched a new feature that allows live videos to be shared with friends to expand the service in a new direction. "In the House", an experimental series of events that started last week and featured over 40 celebrities including Alicia Keys, Derek Hough, Dua Lipa, John Legend, Katy Perry, Snoop Dogg, Cam Newton and Gabi Butler.
Houseparty is hosting a BIG in-app event from May 15th to 17th with all your favorite stars and celebrities. @aliciakeys, @DojaCat, @sanbenito, @DaBabyDaBaby are #InTheHouse and only appear at houseparty!
The complete list can be found at https://t.co/n020RNpHfg pic.twitter.com/WHkpFfoEcn
– Houseparty (@houseparty) May 12, 2020
"This isn't just another virtual music festival – this weekend's lineup is a collection of shared experiences: cooking demos, comedy shows, fitness secrets, dance parties, sing-a-longs, and more," spokeswoman for the houseparty, Kimberly Baumgarten, said in one Explanation with TechCrunch. "This content will complement the houseparty video chat experience for our users."
The house party owner, Epic Games, recently hosted some 12.3 million People in a big live stream concert where Travis Scott was performing in Fortnite, so the move made a lot of sense and, unsurprisingly, is considered the first of many live co-watching experiences that still to come.
Facebook: Messenger rooms
Last month Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined a new option that allows people to complete virtual chases with each other. A week ago, the Messenger Rooms platform, the newest video chat service for groups, was launched worldwide, supporting video calls with up to 50 participants with no time limit on call duration.
Messenger Rooms is a drop-in video chat. When a person using this feature creates a room, Facebook notifies other members of a new section in the news feed or sends a notification to certain friends. Unlike its competitors like Zoom, it tries to differentiate itself by not having to schedule these sessions in advance. Currently, users can start a call via Messenger or the Facebook app and send invitations to users, even to users without a Facebook account.
The future of co-watching: a cross-platform offering
As Facebook originally indicated, the offer will also be available in direct messages within Instagram, WhatsApp and in the portal to officially make Rooms a company-wide undertaking. Last month, Instagram announced its own shared viewing of feed photos and videos. With these measures, more marketers on multiple platforms can simultaneously stream across multiple platforms to better determine where they get the most engagement.
From extensions to Netflix Party or Twitch "Watch Parties", co-watching is an activity that continues to play an important role in maintaining meaningful community relationships in this uncertain time. Looking to the future and from a brand standpoint, this could open the door to building long-term relationships on a scale that would otherwise not have occurred. As the saying goes: "Every cloud has a silver lining."
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