As many of us are sheltering in place or social distancing right now, our ways of connecting with friends and family have been severely limited. One way we’re still able to connect with others, regardless of their physical distance from us, is watching a movie together on the same streaming service. But if you’ve found yourself attempting the impossible task of smashing that “play” button at exactly the time as everyone else in your viewing party, reader, there it is a better way.
A Chrome extension called Scener, which already supported simultaneous streaming with Netflix, announced this week that it now also supports shared streaming for HBO Now and HBO Go customers as well. The extension works by creating a kind of viewing window on your screen—like a personal theater—with an associated code you can share with friends. Once you select whatever movie or series you want to watch, you can either interact with others through chat or video, or enlarge the window and enjoy the stream without any outside chatter.
In a statement by email, Scener co-founder Joe Braidwood called the current global health crisis a “watershed moment for the streaming industry,” adding that Scener has seen 15 times the usage of the service while folks have been in lockdown. Netflix might be supported by Scener, but it’s not an official relationship, and you won’t be able to reach out to Netflix itself if problems arise. However, HBO does officially support the extension.
“Due to our steadfast focus on enabling people to be connected virtually while bringing their own subscription (BYOS), it’s highly significant that this respectful approach to copyright has yielded a commercial partnership,” Braidwood told Gizmodo.
Right now, Scener is supported on Windows, Mac, and Chromebook devices. The service supports up to 20 people on video chat at once, but the company says it plans to roll out support for even larger viewing parties with a live host or live group “in the coming days.” You can snag Scener in the Chrome Web Store.