Streaming giant Netflix just released its newest feature. Netflix Party is a Chrome extension that allows groups to remotely watch shows and movies together. With so many people practicing social distancing, this product allows for a virtual version of hanging out with friends. And it’s free!
Users first must share a viewing link with a group of friends. The group selects the one person who will be given the choice of what the group watches. Then everyone can watch the same content simultaneously while talking in a chat box that opens on the bottom right-hand side of the screen.
The timing of this release is by no means an accident. Netflix is an agile company that’s been long known for quickly adapting to the ever-changing entertainment distribution business. When technology moved on from DVDs, the company pivoted with it to online streaming. When users needed more incentive to purchase Netflix subscriptions, the company pivoted toward producing original content. Now, that the public has been forced to self-isolate, Netflix is providing a platform to give people some semblance of community. Social distancing feels very unnatural to most human beings making a feature like this perfect for these times.
Netflix Party brings back the sense of community that television, other than sports or news, once delivered. Stuart Heritage, of The Guardian, points out, “There are no more water cooler series, because everyone at the water cooler has to tiptoe around the fact that they might be a few episodes ahead of everyone else…” This feature allows for the fun group discussion that was more common when the norm was week-by-week content release.
To use Netflix Party, you have to have the Google Chrome browser. After you download the extension and log into your Netflix account you’re set. The one caveat is that each viewer in the group will need to be on their own Netflix account. Since friends often share an account, this could exclude some users, which may motivate folks to have their own login, a keen marketing ploy on Netflix’s part. Once you’ve pulled up a show on Netflix, click the Netflix Party icon next to the address bar, which will provide a shareable link to send to your friends.