Hidden Code on the Disney+ Site Suggests a Watch Party Feature Is Coming

Image: Disney+
Image: Disney+

Plenty of apps currently allow you to sync up with a buddy and stream a movie or series simultaneously, creating a kind of cinema-at-home experience until it’s safe for us to return to theatres. As of yet, Disney has yet to introduce an official, in-app watch party tool for its service Disney+, but it may be exploring such a feature for future use on the platform.

A tipster brought to Gizmodo’s attention some source code on the Disney+ website that seems to point to a forthcoming feature titled Group Watch. At the time of this writing, the term “groupwatch” appeared hundreds of times in javascript, reviewed by Gizmodo, on the landing page for the live-action Mulan. The feature may be linked to the debut of Premier Access, the platform’s PVOD tool through which it’ll charge $40 on top of its monthly or annual subscription cost to watch the forthcoming live-action remake of Mulan on September 4. The blog Disney Plus Informer earlier reported the code.

The tool appears to allow multiple parties to stream a series or film simultaneously, presumably — as with other native watch party tools — only for people who also have an active Disney+ subscription. In addition to simultaneous viewing, the Group Watch player appears to support user emoji reactions including love, mad, sad, smile, laugh, and wink. It does seem to be limited to people you actually know and restricted on Kids accounts, and the feature may not extend to all titles on the service.

The code includes language that suggests users will be able to use the Disney+ “mobile app or website to invite up to 6 friends to your GroupWatch.” It does appear that the Group Watch function may be limited to one stream at a time, and users who try to join multiple Group Watch parties at once may be told they’ll lose their spot in an old group if they accept a new invitation or start a new party.

A spokesperson for Disney did not immediately return a request for comment.

That Disney+ would be gearing up to launch a new tentpole product ahead of or around the time of one of its biggest releases of the year comes as little surprise. For one, simultaneous streaming has become more useful than ever for connecting friends and family missing the experience of in-person moviegoing amid covid-19 closures. For another, Mulan is a large-scale experiment in whether these straight-to-digital releases make sense for big-budget Disney releases moving forward, and whether they can help further balloon Disney+’s already astronomical subscriber base.

It is worth noting, however, that companies like Netflix regularly test features that don’t necessarily roll out wide to subscribers at large. That said, it’s hard to imagine that an in-app watch party function wouldn’t be a benefit to Disney. And given that watch party support has rolled out to similar services recently, Disney would be wise to explore it.

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