October 26, 2020
Asian content-themed SVOD Rakuten Viki Oct.26 announced new software that enables subscribers to host their own private Watch Parties for friends and families in the United States. Following the initial summer rollout, the new feature enables users to schedule their own private viewing sessions from a wide selection of movies and TV shows.
The virtual group watch feature has become all the rage at competing services such as FandangoNow, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Sling TV and Hulu. Rakuten Viki’s Watch Party allows viewers to interact without the assistance of auxiliary apps and services.
By logging into their Rakuten account, users can host their own private Watch Party and join other “parties” for free using a link provided by the host. Currently, the private Watch Party only works with select movies and the first episodes of drama series. Once a Watch Party starts, users can interact with others within the community via a chat board running parallel to the media player, as well as select subtitles and personalize subtitle preferences. In the future, Watch Party plans to expand to all drama episodes, increase content availability, incorporate more community features, and be available in more regions.
“The new feature is … another way for us to bring our community together to engage conversations with each other, especially in the midst of the pandemic,” Cathy Chang, VP of product at Rakuten Viki, said in a statement.
Rakuten Viki, which costs $4.99 a month for ad-supported standard access, and ad-free Plus Pass for $9.99 a month, is currently promoting watch parties around select Halloween movies, including The Wailing and Rampant.
The debut of the new viewing feature comes as Rakuten Viki expands service across 150+ languages. The service has a collection of more than 1,400 TV shows and movies from Korea, Japan, mainland China, Taiwan, and Thailand. Its library includes myriad movies, romantic comedies, K-dramas, and variety shows both current and classic, with many available the day after they air in their origin country.
Subs can find titles such as Korean zombie thriller Train to Busan, Chinese romantic comedy Go Go Squid!, K-Drama Hotel Del Luna, and K-pop survival show “I-LAND.” Rakuten Viki also houses a number of Korean shows that inspired U.S. TV shows, including “The Good Doctor,” which served as the basis for the eponymous series on ABC, and “King of Masked Singer,” which served as a model for Fox TV’s “The Masked Singer.”