How to Host a Virtual Watch Party

First, go to Hulu on your browser. (It supports Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge.) Go into the show or movie you want to watch. There’s an icon right next to the play button that looks like three people with a play arrow on the top. That’s the Watch Party button. Click it, then click “Start the party.” That will take you to a screen with a link for your viewing session. Copy that, send it to your friends, then click “Start party” once everyone has joined.

Like with Netflix Party, every participant needs to have access to a paid Hulu subscription. If you share a family plan, multiple users on the same account can join a watch party together. Also, not every single thing on Hulu is available for Watch Party. You can’t stream live TV or “premium add-on content,” for example.

Amazon Prime Video Watch Party

WIRED: No installation required. Good video quality.

TIRED: Only Amazon content is available, so no rented or purchased movies. Everyone watching needs an Amazon Prime account.

The newest option on this list, Amazon Watch Party works almost exactly like Hulu’s version of the feature. It’s available on desktop/laptop computers (no mobile option yet). It’s also dead simple to use. Just select a compatible video, then click the “Watch party” option. That will prompt you to enter your name and the video will start. Copy the share link and send it to your friends for them to join.

The big caveat here is that right now, only content in Amazon’s Prime Video library is available to stream. This includes its original shows like Fleabag, Upload, and The Boys, as well as some licensed movies. Unfortunately, any movies you’ve bought or rented can’t be streamed through Watch Party.

A full list of Prime Video titles is here.

Disney+ GroupWatch

WIRED: Works on smart TVs. No installation required. Good video quality.

TIRED: No voice or text chat features. Delayed syncing can make playback confusing.

In September, Disney+ rolled out a watch party feature directly in its service. Unlike most of the other services on this list, GroupWatch works on smart TVs, as well as on web and mobile browsers. Up to seven people (you included) can watch together, provided everyone has access to a Disney+ account. Every user gets control of playback controls, so it can get a little hectic if multiple people are trying to pause or fast-forward at the same time.

To use GroupWatch, just open the specific title you want to watch. To the right of the play button there is an icon that looks like three fat bowling pins. (Or people. I guess it’s probably supposed to look like people.) Click that and then press “Start stream.” From there, you can invite others from your contacts list. If you’re on a TV, you’ll have to connect with the Disney+ app on your mobile device or computer to invite people or use emoji reactions.

There isn’t support for voice or text messaging within the service, so you’ll just have to be content with spamming the “surprise face” emoji whenever Buzz Lightyear says something wacky or you spot the site of a real-life concentration camp in Mulan.

Happy watching!

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