Features

Cross the streams: best ways to watch TV and movies with friends and family online

Goggle outside the box

It seemed like watching tv and stuff was always a perfectly fine solo pursuit, but now that almost every pursuit has become a bit, well, solo - there are still ways to stream together.

While you might not be able to throw popcorn at your fellow viewers and comment over the dialogue how the lead protagonist looks just like your primary school maths teacher - you'll still be able to issue some kind of running commentary as the drama unfolds infront of your geographically distant eyes.

Thanks to these handy web extensions and apps, no matter where you are you'll be able to binge shows together online at the same time. Just like usual. 

Additonal words by Sam Kieldsen 

Kast

What does it do?

Formerly known as Rabbit, Kast is a (theoretically) platform-agnostic alternative to Netflix Party. According to its makers, it’ll let you share video from any source – app, browser, webcam, your entire screen – which means you’re not restricted to Netflix for your watch parties. Heck, you could invite friends (they’ll need to create a Kast account and be using the app too, of course) to communally watch a YouTube cooking tutorial, or boot up a game and wow everyone with your skills. A standard chat window sits on the right-hand side of the screen.

How do download it?

Kast is currently available in three forms: a desktop app available for Windows and Mac; a web app (which only works with Chrome and doesn’t yet support video sharing); and a mobile app for iOS and Android (although this doesn’t support video sharing at the time of writing). So basically, you’re going to want the desktop version if you’re planning on a watch party – but it’s worth noting that chat and other functions will still work for anyone tuning in via the other apps.

Download it here it here  

Is it any good?

If the premise of Kast seems too good to be true… well, in our experience with it, it is. The app worked some of the time, but at other points we experienced poor audio or streamed a totally blank screen, suggesting bugs or other compatibility are still in need of address. So while this app is incredibly promising on paper, we suggest you have a reliable backup like Netflix Party to go to in case you encounter any hiccups.

Netflix Party

What does it do?

There ain’t no party like a Netflix Party, right? And if you can’t be with your pals and relies but still wish to jointly guffaw and babble watching mere strangers get hitched on Love is Blind, then the Netflix Party Google Chrome extension has got you covered (sort of). Thankfully there’s no sound but there’s a chat-box on the right-hand side of the screen so you can chat away. You’ll also be able to see if someone has paused or skipped a section, unless you choose to be the only one who has the control.

How to download it?

You can quickly download Netflix Party via Google Chrome browser on either your laptop or desktop. You simple open up Netflix, select the show and then you should see the NP extension on the top right, select ‘start the party’ where you’ll be served a URL to share. Send the URL to your TV buddies and let the fun begin. Make sure everyone only has one Netflix browser open simultaneously, or it won’t work.

Download chrome extension here.

Is it any good?

It works pretty well, and the side bar chat means it’s not too disruptive, but it is only available on Google Chrome. With one or two people it works a treat, but as soon as more try to join it gets more tricky, but that could be human error - who can tell!?

When you get to the end of the show, however, it will boot you all out of the group watching session and if you want to watch something else afterwards, you’ll have to go through the motions all over again.

 

Watch2Gether

What does it do?

Bad news first: Watch2Gether doesn’t work with any of the major subscription streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Now TV. However, if you want to watch videos from YouTube, Twitch, Vimeo or a bunch of social media sources, it’s got you covered – and doesn’t even require a registration to use. You just head to the website, create a room, find a video (there’s a built-in search bar, or you can find the video in your browser and paste its URL) and invite your friends to join in.

How to download it?

There’s no app to download: Watch2Gether runs in your web browser. Just got to the Watch2Gether site and you’ll find everything fairly self-explanatory.

Is it any good?

It has its obvious limitations and it’s not particularly pretty to look at, but if you want to watch videos from any of its supported sources with your pals, Watch2Gether is a great “casual” way to do so. Once you’ve watched, you can close the browser and you’re done – no endless spam emails urging you to come back or register for its premium service. The chat itself is fine, and from our tests the video streaming works like a charm – smooth, stable and free of audio issues.