Facebook said Monday that people who make video calls on Messenger or use its videoconferencing tool Messenger Rooms will be able to watch videos together with their friends and family on their smartphones in real time.
Facebook users can select videos and shows to view through the social network’s video hub, known as Facebook Watch. The feature, called Watch Together, will be rolling out globally on Android and Apple mobile devices, Facebook said.
The release of the new feature shows that Facebook continues to double down on video as more people rely on the social network during the. More than 150 million video calls are made on Messenger every day, according to the social network. Facebook allows up to 50 people in Messenger Rooms. Messenger, Facebook’s messaging app, has a limit of eight people in a video call.
Olivia Grace, a product manager for Facebook Messenger, said in an interview that she envisions some users turning to Watch Together for group exercise classes or cooking tutorials. Friends and family will be able to see the reactions of their loved ones on a video call as they’re watching a show or video.
“We’re really trying to replicate that experience of sitting together on the couch,” she said, or when a friend nearby recommends a video via phone.
The Facebook Watch video hub includes long and short videos, and they don’t require a subscription to view. Still, the company faces competition from other popular video apps, such as YouTube and TikTok. The TV shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly are available on Facebook Watch, along with some original shows made for the platform. Facebook Watch also includes music videos and short video clips. Celebrity fitness trainer and author Melissa Alcantara, who trains Kim Kardashian West, created a series of workout videos on Facebook Watch.
Facebook said in September that more than 1.25 billion people visit Facebook Watch monthly. Facebook didn’t share any user numbers for Messenger Rooms, its Zoom rival, which was launched in April.
To watch a video with your friend, you start a Messenger video call or create a Messenger Room. Then you swipe up to access the menu and select Watch Together. Users will be able to select a video suggested for them or pick one from a category such as TV & Movies or Watched.