Including Disney Plus' new "GroupWatch" feature, here is how to watch movies and TV together while apart.
If you're a movies and TV lover who has taken heed of COVID-19 safety protocols and maintained social distancing practices, you likely have found a quintessential part of the viewing experience missing from your life -- the watch party. Thankfully, the longer we've had to endure quarantine, more and more options have popped up to stream with your friends and family while staying apart.
The latest development comes from Disney+, which has been testing its co-watching feature, GroupWatch, in various countries abroad, which launched in the U.S. on Sept. 29,
Disney's new GroupWatch feature on Disney+ is activated by clicking on a little circle with three people icons inside of it. It's right to the right of the Play, Trailer, and Watchlist Add buttons, and when you hover over it, will say "GroupWatch."
You can watch with up to six people at once, all of whom must have a Disney+ subscription. The watch link has to be created from the website or mobile app, however participants may also watch from their internet-connected TVs.
All users may control video playback and respond with emojis to what they're watching, but one feature is missing at this time, the ability to chat with each other while watching. So if you're planning on watching Hamilton on Disney+ with your friends, maybe FaceTime or text each other on the side.
You can turn Netflix into a virtual chatroom with the Netflix Party browser extension. It's easy to use, you just download the extension in Google Chrome (the only browser it's available for at this time), install it, and when you log into Netflix, and when you pick something to watch, click on the "NP" icon in your toolbar.
From there, you'll get a link to share with your friends and a chat stream will pop up on the side of your video. Voila! To join an existing watch party, just click on the link your friend provides, and then click on the "NP" icon once you're in Netflix.
If it sounds complicated, don't worry, it's not. The website will guide you through every step of the process.
If you have an ad-free plan for Hulu, you can host a watch party for as many as 8 people can watch at the same time. Every watcher must be over the age of 18, but you can join from specific profiles, meaning multiple people can watch from the same account.
Not every title on Hulu is available for this feature, to check if your favorite movie or TV show is, check for the Watch Party icon immediately to the right of the play button on the landing page (It's a circle with three people in it, sort of similar to Disney Plus).
Amazon Prime Video:
Amazon offers a Watch Party app where you can stream much of their Prime content at once. You can watch with up to 100 people at once, the catch being that everyone watching must be a Prime member. This is only available on desktop and won't work in Safari or Internet Explorer.
To host a watch party, go to the landing page for the movie or TV show you want to stream, and click the "Watch Party" button, which is located next to the share button. If the button isn't there, the content isn't available for a watch party.
Other options for streaming with friends:
Scener is another option that lets you watch Netflix with up to 10 people. Metastream is in beta, but lets you watch on multiple services, including Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and Twitch, and works in Firefox as well as Chrome.
Finally, TwoSeven is an extension available on Firefox and Chrome that adds video chatting into the mix, and can be used to watch videos together on Amazon Prime, YouTube, HBO Now and Vimeo, as well as Netflix. For an additional subscription fee, Hulu and Disney+ are all available.
Hopefully, this helps you be a little less isolated during your self-isolation! Be sure to also check out our guide for what to stream while you stay in, as well.