Facebook Rolls Out New Messenger Feature, Watch Together

Facebook launched Watch Together, a feature for Messenger and videoconferencing platform Messenger Rooms, to allow users to watch videos in real time with family and friends on Apple and Android mobile devices. Users choose videos to view through Facebook’s video hub, Facebook Watch. The push to promote yet more video comes at a time when, due largely to COVID-19, more people than ever are at home watching content. Facebook Messenger allows up to eight people on a video call, and Messenger Rooms tops out at 50 people.

CNET reports that Facebook Messenger product manager Olivia Grace said that, “she envisions some users turning to Watch Together for group exercise classes or cooking tutorials.” Noting that people on the video call will be able to see reactions of everyone else on the call, Grace added that, “we’re really trying to replicate that experience of sitting together on the couch.”

Facebook Watch offers long and short videos including TV shows “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” and “Firefly” along with original videos. Facebook also partnered with celebrity fitness trainer Melissa Alcantara to create a workout video series.

The new Facebook product does face stiff competition from YouTube, TikTok and other established video apps. Facebook revealed that 150+ million video calls are made on Messenger every day and that, in September, “more than 1.25 billion people visit Facebook Watch monthly.” It did not, however, reveal viewing numbers for Messenger Rooms.

Facebook describes how it works: “Just start a Messenger video call or create a Messenger Room then swipe up to access the menu and select Watch Together.” “From there,” it says, “you can select a video suggested for you or choose from a category such as ‘TV & Movies,’ ‘Watched’ ‘or ‘Uploaded’.”

To find a specific video, the user can type keywords into the Search bar of the Watch Together feature. “Watch Together is free and is rolling out globally this week in Messenger and Messenger Rooms on mobile for iOS and Android,” it adds.

The company notes that Watch Together “is also great for creators,” pointing out that “whether you’re an artist, DJ, chef or personal trainer, your community can watch and engage with your video in a Messenger video call.” The partnership with Alcantara, it notes, was to “enable people to virtually work out with their friends and motivate each other to achieve their fitness goals.”

Facebook revealed it conducted a U.S. study that showed that, “70 percent of people who work out with a partner have achieved a fitness goal in the past six months; only 45 percent of people who work out alone have done the same.”