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Watch parties have been one of the biggest trends to spike in popularity lately, but aren't always the easiest thing for folks at home to make happen. Third party apps like Netflix Party can be unreliable, and even scheduled start times and trying to coordinate when to hit play over the phone can be problematic. Luckily, Hulu could alleviate all these problems with its new official watch party feature, though only for those willing to pay for its premium tier.
Starting Thursday, May 28, Hulu revealed a feature for its ad-free subscribers to use a "watch party" function. At the time of writing the feature allows viewers to watch Hulu with their friends, presumably without as much of the hassle as other options would have. Per Variety, the feature is currently available for a select number of titles for ad-free subscribers to use on Hulu's website.
Hulu's version of a watch party allows friends to interact via chat during the show, but also separate from the action if need be. Viewers can pause a feature without interrupting the progress of the group, and continue on whenever they're ready wherever they left off. Should they want to rejoin the group, there's a feature that allows for the user to catch back up, which re-syncs their progress with the host.
Hulu hosting the feature itself means the hassles of a third-party browser won't be an issue, but there are some drawbacks. No one under the age of 18 can participate in these watch parties and, as previously mentioned, the feature is currently only up on the browser version and available to ad-free users. Also, everyone invited to a watch party must have an ad-free Hulu account, which means some may be left out of the fun.
The feature is still in testing, which means it may eventually open up for more titles and with options outside of what's currently available. In terms of intent, Hulu may be looking for fresh ways to innovate for its subscribers, as well as encourage a few of them to bump up from the lowest subscription tier. If going ad-free isn't enough incentive for the $5.99 crowd to pay $11.99, perhaps the watch party will be the feature that ultimately will.
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