Netflix is often more fun with friends, especially when you’re ready to binge-watch a new show together or compare notes on the latest original thriller. But it may not be easy to get friends and family together in person, due to distance or, you know, a global pandemic.
Fortunately, there are still excellent ways you can all jump into a Netflix show at once and still enjoy it! So, start making snack plans and follow this guide to set up a virtual Netflix-watching experience whenever you want.
Step 1: Get everyone a Netflix account
This part is simple: All your friends watching need their own Netflix account, or at least need to have access to Netflix login information they can use.
It’s also important that your friends have devices that they can use to watch shows on their browsers. While TVs may suffice for your classic Netflix and chill, to gather friends around for serious online viewing requires a capable browser and reasonable internet speed. Try to get everyone on computers or laptops. Tablets may work in a pinch.
Step 2: Have everyone download Teleparty
The best Netflix-viewing software is called Teleparty — previously known as Netflix Party, before they added compatibility with Hulu, HBO, and Disney+ (something to keep in mind for the future).
Teleparty works via a Chrome extension. If a friend doesn’t use the Chrome browser, work on getting them to download it just for this purpose, if nothing else. Then everyone can visit the Teleparty website and select Get Teleparty for free. Alternatively, people can search for “Teleparty” in the Chrome Web Store, which should bring up an extension called Netflix Party is now Teleparty.
Downloading the extension is effortless, and will put a small TP logo in the corner of your Chrome browser window — this usually happens automatically, but you may need to choose Pin to Chrome during setup to ensure it appears. Everyone needs to make sure they have that TP logo before you begin your session.
Step 3: Have the designated leader start a Netflix show
Pick someone to be the host: Since you’re reading this, there’s a good chance it will be you. The host’s job is to log into their Netflix account on the Chrome browser and start watching the selected show on the Netflix site. Immediately pause the show once you’ve begun. Double-check that your URL looks something like “www.netflix.com/watch/” and then a video ID number. Now you’re ready to begin.
Click on that red TP logo we mentioned before — it has to be red before you can successfully use it — and choose Start the party. This will open a chat window on the left side where everyone can chat about the show you are watching. You (and everyone else) can minimize this chat window whenever you want by selecting the TP logo again to hide it or bring it back.
We also suggest starting a voice chat around this time. Currently, Teleparty doesn’t support audio chatting, so starting a group call is a good idea, at least in the introductory stage. You could also use a video chat service like Zoom or FaceTime, but keep in mind that will eat into precious bandwidth you’ll need to run Teleparty.
Step 4: Invite all your friends and have them join
With the chat window open, select the silver link icon just to the left of your round user icon toward the top of the window. This will automatically copy the link for the Netflix video. Send that link in a chat or email to everyone invited to the Netflix party.
The guests’ job is now very easy. They just click on the invite link, which should open the right Netflix video using the Chrome browser (making sure you’re in Chrome first is a good idea). Then they can select the red TP logo at the corner of the screen, which will open the chat window and connect them to the host’s party. You will be able to see everyone joining the party under the account name they have chosen.
Step 5: Chat and watch along!
When everyone has joined the chat, you can select play to start the Netflix viewing session. Here’s where the magic of Teleparty comes in: Everyone linked up and watching has control over the video, so it’s like you’re all sharing the remote. When one person pauses to the video to go grab a beer or go to the bathroom, then it’s paused for everyone so no one misses anything. Likewise for skipping certain parts of the video and other commands … but you can give only the host control by choosing Only I have control when starting a new session.
It’s a good idea to find the right mix of chatting and/or audio for everyone as you proceed, and then settle down to enjoy the show. A small group of any size should have no trouble using the software, although you might run into trouble if your group has more than a few dozen people (it’s not ideal for classroom viewing events, for example).
Important note: If you are switching to a different show or movie, this will probably end the current session you are on. That means you will have to create a new session as host and re-invite everyone if you are moving on to different content.