With cinemas largely shuttered since March 2020, and people advised to stay home throughout multiple national lockdowns, it’s been almost impossible to share the communal filmgoing experience. Thank god for the Mouse House then and Disney Plus’ GroupWatch feature. An indispensable part of the streaming service during the pandemic, it has kept families and friends connected through their favorite movies and TV shows.
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Following in the footsteps of Netflix and Prime Video, Disney Plus introduced GroupWatch to American subscribers in the fall of last year. It provides up to seven people with the ability to synchronise their streams, whether watching from New York or Nevada, Montana or Mississippi. Enjoy Marvel blockbusters, acclaimed Pixar animations, and binge-worthy Disney Originals like WandaVision together in real time.
Our guide below details everything you need to know about Disney Plus GroupWatch: what it is, what content you can stream, and how to bring all your BFFs together online.
What is Disney Plus GroupWatch and how does it work?
Miles apart from your kin, at-risk of catching COVID, or self-isolating? You can safely reconvene Friday Night Cinema Club with Disney Plus GroupWatch. GroupWatch is a neat feature that lets you synchronise the playback of ANY film or TV series on Disney Plus, so that up to seven people can view old favorites and recent releases together online.
The host picks a film or TV series to watch, and then issues a Groupwatch link to friends and family. Once everyone has accepted the invitation and the streaming has begun, anyone can control the playback experience. So, if your pals are running low on popcorn, or yawning through some dreary exposition, any of them can pause or resume the stream, or skip ahead to the action-packed bits.
There’s no chat function like Netflix’s Teleparty, but there are six emoji that allow viewers to express how they’re feeling, from “like”, “funny”, “sad”, “angry”, “scared” and “surprised”. Once selected, they’ll temporarily appear on the left-hand side of the screen along with the participant’s profile name.
However, only Disney Plus subscribers can take part. So, if you get an invite to attend your friend’s marathon to watch Marvel movies in order from start to finish, you’ll have to register to the platform first. It’s incredibly straightforward to do, and we’ve detailed here the Disney Plus prices, plans and best deals available.
It’s worth noting that not all countries have the Disney Plus GroupWatch feature right now – it’s currently only been rolled out in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland and parts of Europe. And, while it’s possible to create an international GroupWatch, you might not be able to access the same content across all territories.
GroupWatch is available on most Disney Plus compatible devices, through the Disney Plus app on iOS and Android, certain smart TVs and media streaming devices. Alternatively, you can stream it through the Disney Plus website. It isn’t supported by the PS4, Nintendo devices, or some Roku models, however.
How to use Disney Plus GroupWatch
- Open the Disney Plus app or visit the website directly.
- Navigate to the title that you want to create a GroupWatch for.
- Click or tap on the icon that looks like three people huddled together.
- The GroupWatch page will open.
- Click on the “+” icon to find the link for this particular title.
- Select “Copy Link” if you’re using a web browser, or “Invite” on a mobile device. This will allow you to share the link via email, third party messaging services, text, etc.
- Your friends/family members should be current subscribers, or they will need to sign-up first before joining your Disney Plus GroupWatch.
- They’ll then need to accept your invite. NB: a maximum of 7 people can be part of a GroupWatch.
- You’ll see each invitee’s profile picture appear as they join the stream. Then, when everyone is ready, dim the lights and click “Start Stream”.
- Then, if you want to stream additional movies with your friends, a new GroupWatch will have to be created each time. But if you’re binge-watching a TV Show, you can just opt to “Play Next Episode”.
- When you want to end the GroupWatch, select “Leave GroupWatch”.
How to use Disney Plus GroupWatch on a smart TV
If you want to stream on a bigger screen, the following will let you view GroupWatch through your smart TV:
- Firstly, accept the invite via web browser or a mobile device.
- Then, through your smart TV’s Disney Plus app, navigate to the title your GroupWatch was created for.
- Finally, click on the GroupWatch icon and select “Join Stream”.
- Note that you can use the emoji messaging feature but only via the web or mobile app.
What can I watch with Disney Plus GroupWatch?
Everything! Disney Plus has nearly 900 movies and almost 300 TV shows, so you and your friends can get together over every title with GroupWatch.
From Iron Man to Avengers: Endgame, it’s got every MCU movie, and aficionados could happily host their own virtual premiere for upcoming Marvel spin-offs like Loki.
All of Pixar’s charming and emotionally complex films are here, too, including the Toy Story franchise and the Academy Award-winning Soul, plus the animated riches from the Walt Disney vaults (prepare to be swamped by the *crying face emoji* during The Lion King).
What provides more of a communal experience than the Star Wars saga – which is included in its entirety on Disney Plus – and particularly on that holy day of May the 4th.
But there’s more here than intergalactic gods, superheroes and ETs. Thanks to Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox, you can stream 31 seasons of The Simpsons and films from the studio’s archive, from the iconic The Sound of Music and Journey to the Center of the Earth, to Never Been Kissed and Home Alone.
There’s also gripping animal kingdom drama courtesy of National Geographic, and dozens of thrilling Disney Originals too, with exclusive new content released every few weeks. (Read here for the lowdown on some highly-anticipated TV series).
You can also watch Disney Plus Premier Access blockbusters together, and partake in the breathless excitement of films like Black Widow when it arrives on July 9th. Be aware, though, that everyone will need to have purchased the Premier Access title at circa $30 each to join the Disney Plus GroupWatch.