Apple is trying to dominate watch parties, but it needs more help


Netflix and YouTube, whoa?

Apple is bringing one of the most advanced streaming features to iPhone users with the introduction of SharePlay in iOS 15 later this year, allowing FaceTime users to stream music, online videos and movies with friends . The move positions FaceTime to compete more directly with platforms like Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Houseparty, all of which offer ways to video chat while watching things as a group. It gives Apple a chance to hook a new generation of users to FaceTime — but the service is still missing some key integrations to do so, especially for teens most likely to use it.

SharePlay, announced earlier this week and likely to arrive in the fall, will allow FaceTime users to share and stream media in real time from an iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple TV. It’s a neat tool for the pandemic era, and it draws inspiration from Watch Party Mode that Many Major streaming platforms — including Disney Plus, Hulu and Prime Video — added themselves in the past year. For services where this is not supported, such as Netflix, there are popular extensions that also enable simultaneous streaming and chatting.

However, the goal is not to compete with those native platforms. After all, you’re still watching Hulu in a different location. Instead, the update pits FaceTime Square against services like Facebook Messenger that dominate messaging and are already trying to create co-viewing experiences, but without a service list as strong as Apple has in line. up capacity.

SharePlay makes sense especially for next-generation iPhone users, as teens are more want to see video on their phone. Video-based social media apps such as Instagram and TikTok are extremely popular among teenagers, and a overwhelming majority Teenagers have access to these apps on their personal smartphones. Video chatting is extremely popular, as well as a 2015 survey Pew Research showed that 59 percent of American teens video chat with their friends.

SharePlay also starts with Apple Reported plans iMessage by becoming a social network to compete more directly with Facebook-owned WhatsApp. It makes a lot of sense that the company will likewise invest in the development of its video-calling product, which is just a few taps away.

But if Apple wants SharePlay to be successful among the demographic of consumers who are most likely to use it, it will need to expand the number of apps it supports.

Apple said that at launch, Disney Plus, ESPN Plus, HBO Max, Hulu, Masterclass, Paramount Plus, Pluto TV, TikTok and Twitch will be supported on SharePlay, a somewhat limited grab bag of streaming options. Granted, there’s a lot of time for that list before iOS 15 officially rolls out to users in the fall. And Apple told ledge That SharePlay will be available to any streaming app that wants to support it, so we’re likely to see wider adoption down the road.

However, some of the best applications for this feature failed to make their way into Apple’s initial slide of supported services. Netflix is ​​probably the most obvious of these, on the premise that virtually everyone has a Netflix login, whether they’re actually paying for it or not (at least until the inevitable) password crackdown) but YouTube was not mentioned, nor did the company have any comments to share about potential support when contacted. ledge This week. However, a spokesperson for Peacock told ledge Shareplay support was on its “roadmap”.

YouTube, in particular, seems like a big omission for Apple, especially where teens are concerned. YouTube hosts almost every digital media format – music, movies, news, personalities, tutorials, live feeds, etc. – but most importantly, it’s free. as video callers young people tend to slant Already, apps with highly shareable content like live streams seem like the best use case for SharePlay outside of live sporting events. This is especially true given that for paid services, each participant in a SharePlay streaming session will require a login to the app. After all, if the tool didn’t require credentials and allowed anyone to drop in a FaceTime stream of content from a paid service, Shareplay would be a piracy nightmare.

But this is the part that makes the practical application of SharePlay a bit cryptic. Streaming a game or movie premiere can get expensive fast. If your friends are watching NFL coverage on Sling TV, you’ll need a $35 subscription to join (assuming the content is included in one of the service’s basic plans). If you want to see the premiere access release like Cruella On Disney Plus, you’ll need to pay an $8 monthly subscription cost on top of An additional $30 early access ticket fee. (A spokesperson for Disney Plus confirmed ledge that Shareplay users will still have to pay for viewing access.)

It’s hard to imagine that most users would pay for a service just to be able to FaceTime while they’re viewing a title. Again, based on recent media consumption trends among teens, perhaps SharePlay is part of the future of how entertainment is consumed, at least for the younger subset of Apple users.

It makes sense that a company investing heavily in its services offering would jump on the watch party trend, if it hasn’t been a while, and it’s a natural way for Apple to not only stay relevant but also sell subscriptions and hardware. Feels like – even if just now, the numbers are not likely to balloon for SharePlay streaming services alone. Free, social-leaning services and streaming titans are most likely to have success with this feature, and livestreaming apps are likely to perform best. but they really have to Happen On shareplay to work. As it currently stands, there are not many.

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