Setting up a virtual watch party without some specialized software can be a pain. It’s easy to fall out of sync, and trying to talk with friends can lead to obnoxious audio feedback. There are several apps that help to streamline the process, though, including Scener, which is now compatible with HBO Now and HBO Go. Users with a subscription to one of HBO’s streaming apps can sign up for Scener for free, create a virtual theater, share a code and start watching movies or shows with friends.
The service has been available for a while, but was only compatible with Netflix. According to The Verge, WarnerMedia -- which owns HBO -- was the one to reach out to Scener, and the two companies have been working together since March to ensure a solid viewing experience. As social distancing measures have gone on, demand for virtual watch party tools has increased, and Scener has made some improvements to its Chrome extension beyond adding HBO’s services. Between streaming video and running social and chat overlays, the app would overwhelm resources. However, recent updates that coincide with the inclusion of HBO Now and HBO Go have helped to stabilize Scener’s performance.
There are other options for hosting virtual watch parties beyond Scener. Metastream is compatible with Netflix, YouTube, Netflix and more, and TwoSeven works with Hulu and Disney+ if you pay a subscription fee. It may be worth experimenting with the different solutions to see which one works best for you, but if your friends want to watch Game of Thrones or The Wire, Scener could be your best bet.