Movies are most fun when you watch them with other people. However, it isn’t always possible to watch movies together if your family or friends don’t live in the same place or can’t come to visit.
That’s where the watch party apps and services below come in. Each of them lets you sync up a movie to watch together online, so it doesn’t matter how far apart you are in real life. We’ll show you how to use each of them to get movie night back on track.
How Do Watch Parties Work?
Most of these watch party apps and services work in the same way, so we’ll start by explaining how they work.
The first point to mention is that everyone watching the movie needs an active subscription to whatever streaming service it’s on. If you’re hoping to watch Netflix together, you all need to have your own Netflix subscription.
What’s more, the majority of these services only work on a computer and many of them only work with the Google Chrome browser. If you planned to watch a movie on your TV, you should work out how to cast your computer to your TV before getting started.
That said, some platform specific services, like Disney+ GroupWatch, work anywhere you can use the app.
Once you get up and running, most of these services let you chat to your friends in a chatroom at the edge of the screen. You can usually minimize this if you want to focus on the movie, but you might miss out on some hilarious running commentary if you do. Some of the options even let you start a video chat while watching the movie.
The last point to remember is that these services sync the video for everyone watching. That means if one person pauses, it pauses for everyone else as well. So think twice before you hit the spacebar to grab yourself some extra snacks.
This is also what makes it a far better option than starting a Zoom or Skype meeting and trying to make sure everyone hits the play button at the same time, which never works.
1. Teleparty (Netflix Party)
Originally known as Netflix Party, Teleparty allows you to load a movie on Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, or Amazon Prime and create a party link to share with your friends. When they join, Teleparty syncs the movie for everyone and lets you chat with each other in the sidebar.
Over 10 million people have used Teleparty for long-distance movie nights, and all you need to do to join them is install the free browser extension in Google Chrome. After adding the extension, just find a movie, click the extension to create a party, and share your link.
If you prefer the movie selection on Amazon Prime Video, you can use Amazon’s Watch Party feature to watch movies online together instead. This feature is available on a computer, in the mobile app, and on Fire TV devices.
Amazon Watch Party doesn’t work with Safari or Internet Explorer, though it does work with other browsers.
On the upside, Watch Party promises to let you chat with up to 100 friends at once and works with any movies or TV shows included with Prime.
To start an Amazon Prime Watch Party, find the movie you want to watch and click the Watch Party button in the description. Choose a name to use in the chatroom, invite your friends, and then hit play.
Hulu also offers a built-in Watch Party feature that lets you watch a movie together with up to eight friends online. Once again, this Watch Party only works in supported computer browsers, which includes Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge.
Everyone in the Watch Party needs an active subscription to Hulu and they must be at least 18 years old, though it doesn’t matter which subscription plan they have.
To start a Hulu Watch Party, find the movie you want to watch and click the Watch Party icon in the details section. It looks like three people with a play symbol on them. Then use the link icon to copy and share the Watch Party link with your friends.
If you mostly watch Disney+ content, you might want to use Disney’s built-in GroupWatch feature to sync movies and TV shows with your friends online. GroupWatch is available on smart TVs, computers, tablets, and smartphones—almost anywhere you’re likely to find the Disney+ app.
To use GroupWatch just hit the GroupWatch icon, which looks like three people, next to the play button on the details page for a movie or TV show. Then add other Disney+ subscribers to your group by sharing a link.
Disney allows you to react to whatever you’re watching with a range of different emojis. But if you’re looking for more nuanced discussions than that, you’ll need to start a separate group chat or use one of the other options on this list.
Scener calls itself best way to watch shows and movies with others, and it’s a great option if you don’t want to tie yourself down to a single video streaming service. With Scener, you and your friends can watch a movie together from the following streaming services:
- Amazon Prime Video
- Hulu (No Ads)
- HBO Max
- and more
All you need to do is install the Scener extension for Google Chrome, find the movie you want to watch on the service of your choice, then use Scener to start hosting a watch party.
A private room lets you sync the movie and video chat with up to 10 friends. Alternatively, you can create a public theater to share your watch party with unlimited guests, though they won’t be able to use the video chat.
This is a web app that lets you watch movies together across a range of services. There’s no limit to the number of people who can join a watch party in twoseven, and you can even let everyone use their own webcam and microphone while they’re watching.
You can use the following video streaming services with twoseven:
- Amazon Prime Video
- Apple TV
- HBO Max
- and more
Hulu and Disney+ are also available if you upgrade to the premium plan.
Visit the twoseven website to create an account, then create a watch party using the Watch Now link and share the URL to as many friends as you like. Depending on the streaming service you want to use, you may need to install the twoseven extension for Chrome or Firefox.
If you don’t subscribe to any video streaming services—or if all your friends subscribe to different services—you can still watch a movie online together using Kast. This web app lets you share your screen with up to 100 people. Or you can all watch an existing movie from Kast’s curated library.
Kast offers a selection of independent movies alongside mainstream films available through Tubi. Everything is available for free if you’re willing to watch a few adverts. Or you can sign up to Kast Premium and get rid of the ads entirely.
Just head to the Kast website and open the web app to get started. It prompts you to create an account and set up a new party to invite your friends to.
Syncplay is an open-source app that you can use to sync media players like VLC on your computer. That means you can use Syncplay to watch your locally saved movies at the same time as your friends, although you need to make sure you each have the same file downloaded to keep everything in sync.
You can still send text-based chat messages to your friends, but you need to use a different app if you want to use voice chat or video chat while watching the movie. Syncplay suggests you use Skype or Mumble for this.
Once you select the right file and hit play, Syncplay makes sure the video plays at exactly the same time on everyone’s computer. It even pauses automatically if someone stops playback for a bathroom break.
Plex Watch Together lets you watch movies together online from Plex’s movie and TV library or from your own personal media. When you use Plex’s Watch Together feature, it syncs everyone’s video so that you’re all watching something at the same time. However, it doesn’t offer a chat feature.
Unlike some of the other options on this list, Plex Watch together is available for Android and iOS devices as well as your computer.
All you need to do to get started is select the More (…) button next to a particular movie in Plex, then click Watch Together and invite some friends to join you.
You Can Also Watch YouTube Together
Although we all love movie night, sometimes it’s just as much fun to sit in front of YouTube and watch shorter videos for a couple of hours. If that sounds more like your style, you’ll be pleased to know that lots of online services exist to let you watch YouTube videos together as well.
Want to watch YouTube with friends or family online? Here are several ways you can do that while syncing the video playback.
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