All of Italy is entering its second week on lockdown. San Francisco just started its mandatory three-week lockdown. Bars and restaurants across Los Angeles, New York City, and other major metropolitan areas are closing. Schools have sent teachers and students home for distance learning, and their parents are working alongside them. Unless you’ve been living under a proverbial rock for the last two weeks (like Jared Leto), most of the world is under some form of self-isolation. If you suddenly feel like setting things on fire, that probably just means you want to be social, and while in-person activities might be out of the question, there’s a Chrome extension that could help with some of that cabin fever.
Netflix Party lets you and others not only watch movies and TV shows on Netflix at the same time, but also chat. The layout is similar to Twitch, with video taking up most of the screen and a chat box on the right side. It’s easy to set-up, too: install the Chrome extension, open Netflix and start watching something, then click on the red ‘NP’ logo that now appears in your Chrome toolbar, and share the link with anyone you want to join.
They will also need the extension installed for it to work properly, or else it will just direct them to Netflix without connecting them to your watch party. And it might take a few seconds for the stream to buffer and catch up to where you are, but once it does everything plays seamlessly.
Unfortunately, Netflix Party doesn’t support switching between shows and movies, or even changing to another episode within the same show, but that’s a feature currently being worked on. On the creators’ Patreon, they also list other features they are working on: emojis, inbuilt voice chat, and expanding to other internet TV sites.
While other services like Discord let you voice chat while one person is sharing their screen, the quality of the video stream is downgraded to 720p unless you have a Nitro subscription. Not only that, but there’s also a viewing limit of 10 people (although that has been temporarily raised to 50 in light of the covid-19 pandemic.) The number of people that can be on a Netflix viewing party at once seems virtually limitless since they connect through their own Netflix accounts.
To paraphrase the great Shaun from Shaun of the Dead, let’s all get on Netflix, watch some Star Trek, and wait for this all to blow over.