Staying Sane While Cooped Up – Part 2: Watching Together Online

One of the things I like to do most is watch movies and TV with my online friends. It helps me have a sense of community, even while I can’t go see movies at the theater with friends because of my wacky work schedule. Alas, I wish this didn’t have to be a list, because if it were still alive, I’d just say rabb.it and be done with the whole thing. But our dear bunny is dead and gone, so a list, we must do.

I’ve seen this suggested many places, and honestly, it’s one of my favorite ways to still get that human requirement of connection, even if you can’t exactly be around anyone due to time (like me) or Shelter at Home (like everyone else).

Some of these programs you’ve probably heard of before. Some of them you might not have. I’ll go through the features, pros, and cons of each so you can figure out which would be best for you and your pals at any given time.

1. Netflix Party

Pros

    Easy interface
  • Anyone can pause the title
  • One-click join
  • Chat room sidebar

Cons

  • Netflix only
  • Desktop only
  • Chrome browser only
  • All parties must have a Netflix account
  • Titles must be available in all users’ countries
  • No in-app voice chat

This is the one I’ve been hearing people suggest most often. It’s a great extension and does its job exceedingly well. The limitations are the only drawbacks, so if those cons don’t apply to you, absolutely go for it. With regards to the voice chat – if you want to be in VC while you watch – you can just start up a Skype or Discord call and voila!

2. Discord/Go Live

Pros

  • Joiners can use both desktop & mobile
  • Voice chat & text chat
  • Can view any site the host can go to
  • Multiple streaming site accounts not required

Cons

  • Requires the host be on desktop
  • Viewers have no control of video
  • Relies on hosts’ processing power/internet speed
  • Lag on viewer end can occur (usually fixed with a leave/rejoin of the call)
  • Can be a bit difficult to figure out the first time

I mentioned it in the previous Staying Sane article, but Discord’s Go Live feature is really great for watch parties. The only serious drawback I find with it is that occasionally viewers will get a bit of lag on their part, but it usually resolves with a quick leave and rejoin. This is my usual go to just because of the versatility, though it is a bit more complicated than the one-click of NP.

3. Rave.io

Pros

  • Easy interface
  • One-click join
  • Multiple (not all) sites available – including Netflix & Google Drive
  • Great if everyone is using their phone or tablet
  • In-app text chat
  • Anyone can pause the title

Cons

  • if using Netflix, all users must have their own Netflix account
  • Same country availability restrictions as Netflix Party
  • Mobile/tablet only, no desktop option
  • Weak in-app voice chat

This one I recommend mostly if everyone is on their mobile or tablet device. Great little app, although limited in its functions. Simple to set up, though, and works well.