Hulu is starting to test a Watch Party feature that’ll allow subscribers to simultaneously watch a show or movie while hanging out in a group chat room.
Starting May 28, Hulu is beginning to test Watch Party, its first social feature that will let viewers watch titles together and chat in groups of up to eight people. The feature is currently available only on hulu.com for a select number of titles.
The Hulu Watch Party also seems to be designed to drive upgrades to the $11.99 monthly package with no ads: The feature is available only to those who have the pricier subscription VOD tier.
The feature allows viewers to message each other in a shared group chat that appears beside the video they’re watching. Users can individually control their playback if they need to pause, and a “click to catch up” button will let them snap back to where the group is if they want to sync up again.
While Hulu is the first major service to offer a built-in feature, watch parties have existed in some form before now. There are a bunch of unofficial services that offer this for Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and more. Some streaming services, like HBO, have also started to partner with companies for more official watch party offerings. And the BBC has started to build out a tool that works across many of its own platforms.
Separately, Hulu this month began rolling out a new user interface, starting with Roku and Apple TV, designed to make finding new content easier.
Hulu is now fully controlled by Disney, which offers the service in discounted bundle with Disney Plus and ESPN Plus. As of March 28, Hulu had 32.1 million total subscribers (3.3 million on its Live + SVOD tiers), up 27% year over year, according to Disney.