Roughly a month ago, Twitch quietly emailed people about testing a new feature called Watch Parties. Watch Parties, as the name suggests, gives Twitch streamers the opportunity to stream TV and Movies to their audience live. It’s a feature that has existed in other places on the internet, including the recently defunct Rabbit (now Kast). But unlike those sites, which operate in a dark grey area – Amazon aims to do it in a way that won’t put stress on their legal team. Beta testers are now out there in the wild, and details are starting to come out. Here’s everything we know about Twitch Watch Parties.
**It’s important to note that Twitch Watch Parties are in VERY early beta. We will continue to update this page as features are developed and more details come out. Last update: November 12th, 2019.**
Hosting a Twitch Watch Party
To host a Twitch Watch Party, you first need to be part of the limited beta. Currently, that means signing up for beta access here. You must live in the United States to take part, as other markets are not included right now. Lastly, you (as the streamer) must have an active Amazon/Twitch Prime subscription.
Once all the above criteria are met, and you’ve been invited to the beta, you’ll be able to host a Watch Party. To start, head to the Creator Dashboard and select “Watch Party”. You will need to verify your active Prime account – and then select the content you want to stream. Next, you need to share your Watch Party link with any community members who want to watch the content with you. Your link will look like this: https://www.twitch.tv/YOURCHANNEL/watchparty
Discoverability – there is none. There is no stream category for people hosting Watch Parties, nor will it show you as ‘streaming’ in your follower list. If you visit their page directly, it does show a small indicator that they are hosting a Watch Party – with a link that will connect you to the stream. You also cannot run a Watch Party and Regular Stream at the same time. If you start with a regular stream, then transition to a Watch Party – your regular stream will end immediately.
The Viewing Experience for Twitch Watch Parties
As a viewer, the experience is a little lacking right now. (Again, early beta.) When you visit the channel streaming a TV show or movie, you’ll first be asked to confirm you have an active Amazon Prime account. Once that’s done, you’ll be watching the content via an Amazon Video player.
The Twitch player is replaced by an Amazon Video player. The streamer has NO involvement in the content. They do not have a video overlaying them, nor do they have any audio feed-in. (So Mystery Science Theater style streams are currently not possible). The only way to interact between viewers and the streamer is via the Twitch chat. There are also no ads that run during Watch Parties. Channel Moderators who DO NOT have Twitch Prime can still moderate the chat, but they will NOT be able to watch the stream.
That viewing experience and Twitch Chat is stripped of additional functionality. You cannot sub, gift subs, or give bits from the Twitch Watch Party page. You also cannot use clips, nor is a VOD created of the stream. Twitch Watch Parties will NOT impact your view counts, as the Amazon Prime video player resides outside of Twitch. Naturally, Squad Streams are disabled, and co-streaming is not allowed.
The Email that Twitch Sends to Beta Testers
Before you and your community disappear into Prime Video binge fest, here are some things you should know while you test out the current version of Watch Parties.
- You must be located in the United States and have a current Amazon Prime membership.
- Your viewers will also need to be located in the United States and have an active Amazon Prime membership.
- Watch Parties are currently accessible on desktop web only.
- At this time, in-progress Watch Parties are not discoverable on any Twitch interfaces, meaning that your channel will appear offline during a Watch Party (we are working on making your Watch Party discoverable soon!). However, viewers can access your Watch Parties in two ways:
Through your custom Watch Party URL. We strongly encourage you to share the link with your viewers via Chat, the panel area of the Twitch channel page, or other social channels.
When a Watch Party is in progress, viewers can navigate to your channel page and join a Watch Party via the banner above the video player.
- Watch Parties will not support video of audio overlays, including the streamer’s webcam and mic feed. Streamers can still engage with the community in chat.
- Viewers will not be able to Cheer or Subscribe during a Watch Party. That functionality will return the moment you end a Watch Party. Other features, including Clips, VODs, Raids, Squad Stream, and Ads, will be disabled during a Watch Party.
Future Development for Twitch Watch Parties
The following features MAY be added at some point, but, timeframes are completely up in the air.
- Streamer Camera + Audio Interface (Potentially requiring Twitch Studio)
- Full-Featured Twitch Chat (Subs/Gifted Subs/Bits)
- Discoverability Options (Category + Live Notification + Follower Listing)
- Adding Mobile Functionality (Currently, it ONLY works on Desktop)
- Expansion to Include Other Countries (Canada/UK)
- Possible further expansion into the remaining 14 other Amazon Prime countries.
What Shows and Movies are Available on Watch Parties?
The list isn’t super long but is going to be consistently updated. As such, we created a dedicated post for it. You can find the full list of Watch Party titles here. (Posted soon!)