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25 Million People Cowatched Content During Pandemic

Sling TV Watch Party
(Image credit: Sling TV)

LOS ANGELES—People still found a way to enjoy a TV show or big sporting event with others during the pandemic, as a new study by The Diffusion Group reveals that 25 million U.S. adults cowatched content with people outside their home via internet-connected screens.

The data, part of TDG’s “The Rise of Social Viewing & Watch Parties” study, found that one in seven adult SVOD users watched synced on-demand video as of March 2020.

“The pandemic not only drove home media consumption, but accelerated the use of connected TVs and video-based chat,” said Lauren Kozak, senior analyst and author of the report. “Not surprisingly, the two trends coalesced to create a new hybrid, the online watch party.”

Prior to the pandemic, cowatching services were limited and primarily used by those TDG describe as “technophiles.” But when lockdown orders were put in place, major tech-media firms began providing their own cowatching features. This included Instagram, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and Sling TV.

The report found that six in 10 SVOD viewers are aware of cowatching features, with three in 10 familiar with using them. TDG also noted that 54% of people that have not used cowatching features are open to doing so.

One particular area that SVOD users are interested in exploring cowatching capabilities is live sports, however only a handful of apps currently support this.

Additional findings from TDG’s report include that 18-24 year olds are the most likely to have engaged in cowatching, and that the majority of would-be cowatchers would prefer to do it through their home TVs rather than computers or mobile devices.

For more information, read TDG’s full “The Rise of Social Viewing & Watch Parties” report.