Perfectly timing when to press “play” on a digital viewing party is nearly impossible. Thankfully, streaming services have caught on to the futility of long-distance movie night and introduced synchronized video playback as a solution.
Netflix started the trend with Netflix Party, a Chrome extension that eases the pain of watching content while chatting with friends. Now, Hulu is jumping on the bandwagon, introducing Watch Party—a test feature for subscribers to connect via film and TV shows.
The function, according to the Hulu Help page, synchronizes video playback for all participants, and adds a group chat sidebar for quiet conversation. But there’s a catch (or three): Watch Party is available only to Hulu (No Ads) or Hulu (No Ads) + Live TV customers 18 years and older. It currently allows only eight people to join a single web-based session; viewers who share the same account can join through individual profiles.
“Thousands of on-demand movies and shows from Hulu’s streaming library are available with Hulu Watch Party,” the company said, adding that live TV and premium add-on content, however, is not. To get started, select the Watch Party icon next to a video, click “Start Watching,” then tap the chain icon to copy the link and invite others.
Unlike Netflix, Hulu doesn’t require any additional downloads. All you need is one of the supported web browsers (latest version of Chrome, Edge, Firefox, or Safari) and a special link. Otherwise, the two tools are almost identical, with simultaneous play, pause, and jump-ahead actions, the option to enter full screen, and a right-side chat bar that lets you talk without disrupting the viewing experience.