Disney Plus adds group watching, so you can watch all the Marvel movies with your friends

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Disney Plus has got a got new feature – one that lets subscribers sync up playback of Disney Plus movies and shows with each other, for real-time co-viewing that should almost make you forget you aren't doing it in person. And it's now landing in the UK.

GroupWatch, as it's called, enables up to seven users to sync any Disney Plus content together, with each user getting access to playback controls rather than a single host controlling them. 

It initially came to the US in September – after a trial in Canada and New Zealand – with a wider global release expected later in the year, and UK subscribers can now check out the feature. If you're not a subscriber already, you can always sign up for £5.99 per month too.

Almost like the cinema?

In a time when cinema chains are closing, and new tiers of lockdown measures are restricting how and when you can meet up with friends or family, the ability to interact digitally in new ways is increasingly crucial.

So whether you're keen on watching Hamilton with your cousin, The Mandalorian with your childhood friends, or The Incredibles with your long-term partner who is stuck on the other side of the same city, GroupWatch can absolutely let you do that.

It's worth adding that you can even post emojis onscreen during the action (like, funny, sad, angry, scared, surprised) in a similar fashion to a Facebook Live stream. They don't look overly obstructive, though some cinema puritans may wish to ban their uncouth friends from using them if they're found to be distracting.

The GroupWatch icon can be found next to the Play, Watchlist, and Download icons found on the landing pages for each title, on the far right side. A link can then be shared with other Disney Plus subscribers – and it must originate on mobile or a web browser, though the function also works across smart TVs and streaming devices.

We've seen similar features through Netflix Party, a third-party Chrome add-on for syncing Netflix playback – as well as the official Watch Party function on Amazon Prime Video. Disney isn't first to the party, then, but it's certainly dropped an official, fleshed-out version with its own emoji spin on things.

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.