Facebook tests Watch Party live chats for videos Facebook doesn't have

The company's testing a group chat for live TV.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
Expertise Streaming video, film, television and music; virtual, augmented and mixed reality; deep fakes and synthetic media; content moderation and misinformation online Credentials
  • Three Folio Eddie award wins: 2018 science & technology writing (Cartoon bunnies are hacking your brain), 2021 analysis (Deepfakes' election threat isn't what you'd think) and 2022 culture article (Apple's CODA Takes You Into an Inner World of Sign)
Joan E. Solsman
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Facebook is testing a new format of its Watch Party social-video chat that's meant for live TV unavailable to stream Facebook itself. 

The company made the announcement Wednesday at a South by Southwest event in Austin, Texas. It also announced that its original series Red Table Talk, a talk program with Jada Pinkett Smith, would return with 20 new episodes starting in May. 

Facebook launched the Watch Party format last year, its idea of a vast digital living room for fans to share conversation about a video at the same time. 

The test of the live-TV Watch Party concept will start in Facebook Groups during live sports events like UEFA Champions League soccer matches. When you start a Watch Party, Facebook will offer new option called "on TV," where you can select the live game. Instead of including the video at the top, the design will put live game scores and interactive tools like trivia and polls above its feed of comments. 

In addition, Facebook announced that it's expanded the ability to share personal videos with music in more than 40 countries, up from 15 countries in October. It's also adding the ability for people to tap through to listen to songs on Spotify from a Facebook Profile.