Thinking of having a blast with your friends watching your favorite movies and shows from a Roku device?
I have been at it for the last couple of months, and I have to tell you that it's a no-brainer idea. Watching shows and movies with friends and commenting on the developments is as joyful as it sounds.
The Roku TV, one of the best streaming devices on the planet, makes the job even better with its 4K resolution streaming capabilities and its easy-come-easy-go interface.
But can you do a watch party on Roku though? Well, that's a double-edged sword!
The watch party feature is not yet available extensively on Roku devices but apps like Amazon Prime and Disney Plus support it. To host watch parties on platforms that don't support it, open the said platforms, say Hulu, on a supported device and then, cast/mirror the screen of your streaming device onto Roku.
This step-by-step guide will help you host a Roku watch party with your family and friends.
Streaming Through Casting/Mirroring
As I mentioned earlier, group streaming and watch party capabilities have not yet made their way to Roku other than a handful of streaming services like Amazon Prime.
The only plausible way to stream and watch content from most platforms with your loved ones is through casting or mirroring the content from a supported device.
Several apps like Hulu and Netflix have party streaming capabilities. But, they are limited to mobile phones and PC browsers only.
But that's not a terrible thing since we have cast and mirroring options available on these devices. Roku, too, can flawlessly cast and stream content on it, provided, under obliging conditions.
iPads especially have multiple ways by which you can mirror content to the Roku TV.
Ensure to connect both devices to the same network to cast/mirror properly.
Although casting doesn't require any additional settings (all you need to have is an app that supports casting), screen mirroring can be controlled in some ways or the other on Roku.
And by control, I mean the level of visibility and permissions that you can configure.
To configure screen mirroring on Roku, follow these steps.
1. On the Home screen, click and open the Settings icon.
2. Click on System, and then select Screen Mirroring.
3. Under the screen mirroring mode setting, select the appropriate option.
4. Prompt will bring up a prompt message every time a device wants to share its screen.
Always allow will show no prompt and allow any device to connect. Never allow will block all mirroring requests made to your device.
After setting the right configuration on your Roku, all you have to do is select the screen mirroring option on your Streaming device.
Depending on the mobile device you choose, the name of this feature may vary.
Apple has Airplay, or simply screen mirroring, while Android devices use names like Smart View, Quick Connect, Allshare Cast, etc. depending on the manufacturer.
Roku devices have native support for Airplay. It is easy to mirror iPad to Roku.
Swipe down the control/notification center on your phone and select the appropriate screen mirroring shortcut from the quick settings menu.
Select the Roku device from the list and if you have enabled the Prompt option on the Roku, click on Allow or Always Allow for sharing the screen.
In the case of Windows devices, open the Action Center from the taskbar and click on Connect.
Select the Roku device and wait for the connection to be established.
If you cannot connect to the device, make sure you have enabled the feature on Windows by going to Settings> System> Display> Connect to a wireless display.
Now let's take a look at how to enable Watch-party on various apps.
Amazon Prime Watch Party on Roku
Being one of the only streaming apps that fully supports Watch Part natively on Roku devices, Amazon Prime stands out as the best among the bunch.
With its vast library of curated content and support for various other streaming services embedded within the app, Amazon Prime Video can cater to all your entertainment needs.
So, can you host an Amazon Prime Watch party on Roku? Sure you could.
To host an Amazon watch party on Roku, follow these steps:
1. Open Amazon Prime Video on Roku.
2. Search and select the video of your choice to start the watch party.
3. Once inside the title page of the video, click on the watch part logo.
4. Enter a name under the "What's your Name?" option.
5. Click Create Watch Party to generate a link.
You can invite up to 100 people using the Share icon or copying the link and sharing it via a third-party service, like WhatsApp or Email.
Note that all users must be present in the same country as the host and all of the participants must have an Amazon Prime subscription.
Disney+ Watch Party on Roku - GroupWatch
With a ton of content and the availability of all the Marvel movies and shows, Disney+ has become one of the giants in the streaming game.
Its GroupWatch feature can pair up to 7 devices to watch and stream content concurrently.
Unlike other popular streaming services, the GroupWatch feature is available on some high-end Roku devices like certain Roku TVs and Ultra devices.
Even so, the number is small in comparison to the wide range of devices Roku offers.
It is also available on Android, iOS, Windows, and certain other smart TVs and streaming devices.
To enable the GroupWatch feature, follow these steps.
1. In the app, search and open the content of your choice.
2. Click on the GroupWatch icon to open the GroupWatch tab.
3. Click on the "+" icon to generate the GroupWatch link.
4. Click on the copy link or invite option to share the link or invite people.
5. Once a person joins, you will be able to see the account picture of the invitee.
All participants must have an active Disney+ subscription to join GroupWatch.
Hulu Watch Party on Roku
Another mammoth streaming service thriving in the game right now is Hulu.
With its virtually unending hours of content on offer and live TV capabilities, it is one of the best streaming services out there.
The watch party feature on Hulu even provides a chat room feature on the right side of the interface for live interactions with each other.
The downside, it is limited to only certain browsers as of now. A total of 8 participants is also a paltry sum in comparison to other streaming services.
So, how can you do a Hulu watch party on Roku? Follow these steps to enable the watch part feature on Hulu.
1. On the browser, open Hulu.
2. Search for the content you want to watch with your friends/relatives.
3. Click on the Watch party logo if available since not all shows and movies support Watch party.
4. Click on Start the Party to open a tab with a link.
5. Click on the chain logo to share the link with your friends/relatives.
6. Click on Start Party to start streaming.
How to Host a Watch Party on Netflix?
Unlike the other streaming services that we have talked about in this article, Netflix doesn't provide a Watch Part option yet.
Netflix, being at the paramount of streaming services, should have, like most other prominent streaming platforms, enabled this seemingly simple feature for the masses long ago.
But it is what it is!
Nonetheless, you can host a Watch Party on Netflix via a rather unconventional method.
Here's how it goes:
1. Power up your PC and search for a suitable Netflix Party app on the Chrome store. We suggest Teleparty.
2. Install the extension and open Netflix on the browser.
3. Choose the content you would like to share with your friends.
4. Click on the NP (corresponding logo to the extension) from the top right toolbar.
5. Select Start Part, upon which a pop-up window opens with a unique URL.
6. Share this URL with your friends to sync the content to their corresponding Netflix accounts.
7. Once you start playing the content, share the screen of your host device with the Roku using the steps mentioned above.
You can also make use of several other features on offer on the extension like live chat and so on. Do note that you can't access the said features on Roku but only on the Host device.
The whole procedure may seem like a bit of a tussle but effective nonetheless.
Although there are apps, other than the ones I have mentioned here, that support Watch party streams, none of them are as reliable as the ones that natively support them.
Common bug issues and connectivity issues plague these apps and can make your streaming experience a forgettable one.
Albeit, if you can get it to work, it's indeed an enjoyable affair.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can I stream local content from my computer via Watch With Friends?
Watch With Friends, one of the most usable sharing platforms for Netflix, is now defunct and cannot be accessed to host or share content from Netflix.
Prime Video’s native watch party is not working on my Roku. What should I do?
Prime Video Watch Party is not natively supported on Roku, but if you have a laptop you can use that and cast the laptop screen directly to your Roku via Chromecast.