Twitch has always wanted to be more than a video game streaming platform. That’s why it has a category dedicated to ‘Just Chatting’ and broadcast classic shows such as Inspector Gadget, Doctor Who and Power Rangers. It’s unsurprising, therefore, that the company wants to make it easier for streamers to host ‘Watch Parties’ with their most passionate fans. Following a closed beta and US-only roll-out, Twitch is offering the feature to every creator and viewer on the platform. That means anyone can broadcast anything listed on Prime Video — another Amazon-owned service — including shows like The Boys, Bosch and Tales from the Loop.
There’s a few caveats, though. Both the streamer and viewer need an active Prime Video subscription to participate, for instance. (Otherwise, millions of people could tune in and watch a new Amazon show without paying the company a dime.) The Prime Video catalog also varies between regions, so if you live in the US and tune into something that’s UK-only, you won’t get in. Finally, you can’t view Watch Parties on a mobile device, though Amazon has promised that it’ll be available “in the coming months.”
Even with these restrictions, the feature could be massive for Twitch. Soccer fans, for instance, could take a break from FIFA and Football Manager by watching All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur. A film critic, meanwhile, could review any number of movies in real-tie with their fans.
Watch Parties are a unique combination of Amazon-owned properties. There’s no Google-built Netflix rival, for instance, (sorry, but YouTube Premium doesn’t count) to offer YouTube streamers. Facebook has dabbled with premium TV shows like Limetown and Sorry for Your Loss, but none have resonated the same way Netflix and Amazon’s best originals have. If they want to clone Watch Parties, Google and Facebook will need to partner with another company — Netflix, HBO, or something of a similar caliber — that makes the kind of shows people want to watch together.