Just because you and your friends have moved to different corners of the globe doesn’t mean you have to stop watching shows and movies together.
Trying to all hit play at the same moment — as well as juggling between Netflix and Skype, a Facebook chat, Slack, Discord or any other online chat program — isn’t exactly the most convenient thing in the world. Luckily, there is another way.
There are several great apps, extensions and websites with the goal of syncing up Netflix streams across the Internet, but they all have their ups and downs. Some are exclusive toChrome, some have top-notch chat features and some don’t go full screen.
Here are the pros and cons of the best ways to watch Netflix with your friends online.
Netflix Party is a Google Chrome-exclusive extension that only requires one person to install it, making it the easiest of the three to set up.
Once you install it, choose a movie or show, pause it, and then click the red “NP” button at the top right of your browser to get a link to a shared session. The extension allows you to chat with everyone in the viewing session, but doesn’t allow you to put in a name, so you’ll have to remember your friends’ random symbols.
Netflix Party allows for full-screen viewing and anybody in the session can hit pause, play or scrub through the timeline. The stream adjusts seamlessly.
The biggest downside to Netflix Party is that if you want to watch a few episodes of something or another movie, you’ll have to create a new session every time. Even if Netflix autoplays to the next episode, it will kick everyone out of the session and you’ll have to send out a new link to everyone.
Rabbit is one of the most well-rounded stream-sharing services available, partially because it can be used with any browser and partially because you can share all your favorite streaming services including Netflix, Hulu, Crackle and more.
Rabbit requires you to have an account and add the people you want to share a stream with as your friends. It works by having one person in control of the stream, which is shared via a proxy browser right on the Rabbit website. This means you’re essentially sharing the view of a full browser with everyone in your party, and you can go anywhere on the web that you like.
While this is a great feature, it doesn’t give the best stream quality. Even when watching something in a Rabbit room alone, the Netflix stream is pretty pixelated. It also cannot be put in full-screen mode or resized, relegating your viewing area to a small portion of your actual screen. If you’re watching on a laptop or tablet that’s 13 inches or less, good luck seeing much of what’s happening.
The chat options on Rabbit are great, though. The chat window on the right shows everyone’s username and picture, and you can even do voice and video chat.
The Chrome-exclusive extension Showgoers is pretty similar to Netflix Party but requires everyone to have the extension. It will drop the sharing party if you decide to go to a different movie or episode, but it has an improved chat feature that allows you to pick your own name.
This is definitely the best Netflix-sharing service as long as everyone has a Netflix account and uses Chrome. Just send the syncing link to anyone you want after you start playing a show or movie and anyone can pause, play or scrub through the stream.
Showgoers also has a public viewing party section of their website which allows you to join strangers’ viewing parties.
These three services have their upsides and downsides but they are the best Netflix-sharing services available, at least for now.