Even a favorite activity at home, like watching TV, can get lonely at times, especially if you're used to hanging out with your friends and looking together. And although you can stream your screen and share text, FaceTime, or on zoom, sometimes that won't be trimmed. If you're looking for a way to make your socially distant series more social, there are browser extensions that allow you to host watch parties digitally.
Here are four apps you can use to host movie nights with friends online, along with step-by-step instructions on how to start watching TV.
To use these apps, you need a separate subscription for each service. Each viewer must log in to their own account. These extensions work in addition to your existing subscription to sync the videos with your friends. They do not offer a free ad to non-subscribers.
Netflix Party syncs your streams with those of your friends and adds live chat on one side of the screen. The app is only for use with Netflix and is only available for Chrome.
How to host a Netflix party:
- Download the extension
- Open Netflix and play a video
- The Netflix Party extension icon next to your address bar should change from gray to red. Click on it.
- A window opens asking you to create a Netflix party. You have the option of either taking complete control of the playback or leaving it open to everyone. Click "Start Party".
- Another window with a link is displayed. Click "Copy URL" and share it with your friends. If necessary, you can find this link again by clicking on the Netflix Party expansion icon.
- Netflix Party automatically gives you an icon. By clicking the icon you can change it (there are a few alternatives) as well as your nickname.
How to join an existing Netflix party:
- Click on the link.
- Click the Netflix Party icon.
With Metastream, you can chat live while watching videos on a number of platforms, including Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Twitch, and Crunchyroll. However, Metastream opens Netflix in a different window. The app is still in beta, so there are some problems. For example, there were some issues when using Hulu in Chrome. Metastream recommends using Firefox while watching Hulu, which worked better than we tried.
How to host a Metastream watch party:
- Download the extension for Firefox or Chrome. The extension can read and change data on websites you visit.
- Navigate to https://app.getmetastream.com/
- Enter a friendly name and click "Get Started".
- On the next screen, click "Start Session".
- Click the "Invite" button on the left for a link to share. Click "Copy" and send it to your friends. In the same window, you can also make the session public, private or offline and change the number of allowed users (you can have an unlimited number of users). Close from this window.
- Your friends will click this link to attend the session. When they join you will see a box on the left with your and your name. You need to click the green check mark next to their name to let them in. To give them permission to add videos and change playback, click the three dots next to their name, then click "Switch DJ".
- The Metastream screen may be busy. You can make things clearer by setting up your chat to play on the right side. Click on the three dots on the far right of the bar at the bottom of the start screen. Click the "Chat" button. When the chat window opens, click the rectangle icon in the upper right corner of this window.
- When you click the gear icon, you can select an avatar and change your username.
There are a few ways to look at something. Click the Add Media button in the center of the main screen. You can then either:
- Paste the URL for the video into the bar either at the top or bottom of the screen, then click "Add to Session".
- Click on one of the video sources in the middle of the screen. This will take you to the home screen for this source. Find the video you want. Then click the "Add to session" button in the top right corner.
When you do any of these actions, the video is queued so that you can make a list of the things you want to watch.
With Scener, you can video chat with your friends while watching Netflix (and only Netflix, though Scener plans to add more streaming services in the future). There is also a text chat function. You can watch with up to 20 people. Previously, you could only use Scener with the primary profile for your Netflix account. However, the app has been updated recently. Now you can use them from any of your Netflix profiles.
How to use Scener:
Download the Chrome extension. The extension asks for permission to read and modify your data on Netflix and Scener, to display notifications and to "communicate with cooperating websites".
- Open the app by clicking the extension icon (to the right of the Chrome address bar).
- Enter your name and email address to create your Scener profile.
- Sign in to Netflix.
- Click "Create Private Theater".
- The scener asks you if you want to activate your camera. Click on "Yes".
- Scener gives you the option to share either a link or a code with your friends. Click the "Copy Link" button to get the link and send it to friends who don't have a scanner yet. The link sends them to a page with a link to download Scener. Once they have installed the extension and opened Scener, they will be added to the theater.
- If you already have scener, you can send them the code instead and you can enter it to join your theater. If you'd like to send someone the code or link later, you can click the button that looks like a person and a plus sign at the top of the Scener sidebar.
- When you move the mouse over your video window, small video and microphone icons are displayed. Click this to turn your video or audio on and off.
- Select a show or movie and click the play button to start playback.
Scener has a virtual remote control that you can share with and from your friends. Whoever has it can control what everyone sees; You can also rewind, pause, and play the movie or TV show – in other words, it behaves like a real remote control. Move the mouse pointer over your video window to "pass" the remote control. A remote control button should appear above your window. Click on it and choose who you want to share it with in the pop-up window.
TwoSeven also has a video chat function, but supports more services. In addition to Netflix, you can use it to watch Amazon Prime Video, HBO Now, YouTube and Vimeo. If you pay the subscription fee, you can also use the app with Hulu and Disney Plus. Subscription prices range from $ 5 to $ 20 a month. Because of COVID-19, TwoSeven offers all of these paid features for $ 3 a month.
How to host a TwoSeven watch party:
- Download the extension for Firefox or Chrome. The extension requests permission to view notifications and read and change data on websites you visit.
- Create an account by clicking the extension icon and going to the site. You have to confirm your email.
- Click on the TwoSeven icon next to the address bar and then on "Go to twoseven.xyz".
- Click Get Started. Here you can change your avatar and username by clicking the icon in the upper right corner to the right of the gear icon. Select "Account" to access your profile settings.
- Click on "Start Watching".
- You will get a popup window where you can create a private room. You can either allow the other participants to control the webcam and the microphone, or you can only grant the administrators access. Make your selection and then click "Just me".
- Click the icon in the upper right corner that contains two people and a plus sign. Click "Copy Link" and share this link with friends. Once you do this, they will be added to the monitoring session.
- Click the camera and microphone icons on the right side of the screen to enable video and audio.
- There's also a live chat feature at the bottom of the screen. Click on "Messages" in the lower right corner to open it.
- Click the button for the video source you selected at the top of the screen. Netflix takes you to the home screen of your account. There you can click on a movie or view it to watch it. To watch YouTube videos, you need to paste the URLs.
Once you've added someone to the monitoring session via a link, you can add them as a friend to make it easier for you to join future monitoring sessions.
To do that:
- With two people, click the icon (not the plus sign).
- Find their name and click on the icon with a person and a plus sign. This will send them a friend request; You have to accept it.
- If you receive a friend request, you can accept it on the TwoSeven home page (if you have an existing monitoring session open, open it on a different tab, otherwise you will leave the session). All friend requests should appear under "Pending Requests" on the right. Click the green check mark to accept.
Update March 7, 5:46 p.m. ET: This article has been updated to reflect upgrades to Scener and to include the privileges requested by the extensions.
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