The Rise of Social TV Viewing and Watch Parties

The now year-old pandemic has changed all aspects of daily life. Media consumption is no exception. Internet use, on-demand viewing, video-chat adoption, and social media traffic all spiked during the last nine months of 2020. In combination, these trends birthed cowatching or “watch parties”: an unusual hybrid watching/social model which involves synching an on-demand TV, movie, or social video with one or more people outside of the viewer’s home and using social features like chat or reactions while doing so.

Nascent just a year ago, cowatching is swiftly gaining traction. Over one dozen services now enable some form of cowatching, spanning major SVOD services, third-party solutions, and social networks, most of which launched in 2020. Pandemic stay-at-home orders may have catapulted early adoption of cowatching, but, looking forward, both users and non-users are now expressing interest in the behavior post-pandemic.

In this first of its kind examination of cowatching, author Lauren Kozack explores its swift rise in use among streamers; the devices, behaviors, services, and features used by cowatchers; and the cowatching services and applications – in the field or being launched – by companies like Amazon, Teleparty, Disney+, and Hulu.

Meet the Author

Lauren Kozak, the author of In Search of an Audience: Quibi’s Post-Pandemic Prospects, User Adoption and Trends in Social Streaming, IGTV, & Facebook Watch, and The Ascent of the Social TV Engager, is our Senior Advisor on Social Media, Analytics, and User Behavior. She has previously held positions for the Los Angeles Times, Tribune Publishing, and Britney Spears.

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