Although social distancing certainly adds hurdles to maintaining relationships, movie and television streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and HBO have been working to overcome those obstacles. With the help of these streaming service giants, watching TV in quarantine doesn’t need to be quite as isolated.
Netflix Party is a free Google Chrome extension that allows users to synchronize their viewing across multiple computers with Netflix accounts. Netflix Party also includes a chat bar on the side that simulates couch-talk without interfering with the movie or show’s audio.
With the intention of making collective viewing as accessible as possible, the extension is very simple to download and use. Once Netflix Party is installed from netflixparty.com, a grey “NP” icon will appear in the user’s browser toolbar, which will turn red when you click on a show or movie. By clicking on the NP icon, a pop-up will appear with the link to share with friends and family, as well as the option to have full control over the pause, play, rewind and fast-forward functions.
Along with Netflix’s extended 30-day free trial, Hulu is currently offering a one month free trial with basic access and a 7-day trial with no ads. After that, subscriptions are six dollars with ads or 12 dollars without ads per month. Hulu also offers a bundle package with Disney+ and ESPN+ for 13 dollars.
Additionally, 500 hours of programming is available on HBO as a part of the movement #StayHomeBoxOffice, which was launched by the network on April 3. Viewers can watch full seasons of television shows such as True Bloods, The Sopranos, Barry and Veep for free. Even movies such as Pokémon Detective Pikachu, Pan and Crazy, Stupid, Love are available to stream for free.
With a Colgate University login or a library card to a public library, Kanopy holds more than 30,000 documentaries and classic and indie films without fees or commercials.
Adult Swim is offering the Samurai Jack series from beginning to end on its website and app. Only available in the United States, IMDb TV is free for streaming top Hollywood hits and TV shows, including La La Land and the first five seasons of Schitt’s Creek.
“It’s great that not only are there efforts to make entertainment more available to people in this time where what we can do is pretty limited, but that there is a big emphasis on how we can still do that with other people. They’re leveling out the playing field so everyone has access to the same stuff, especially by some services making it free,” sophomore Lizzie Svach said.
Compared to movie tickets that can cost upwards of 20 dollars per person, many of these new deals are much more affordable and also provide a much larger variety of options to stream.
Although many are excited about these novel offers and the opportunity to stream movies together more efficiently, it is clear that remote parties cannot perfectly parallel the experience of collective viewing.
“The whole point of watching movies together is to snuggle or to look at each other and smile or to exclaim ‘oh my god’ together. It’s cute that Netflix is trying, but I want my friends back,” sophomore Florence Almquist-Checa said.
While these online alternatives to movie theaters and group movie screenings are not necessarily ideal, they offer a generous substitute for the time being that can satisfy the urge to inundate ourselves with Oscar-winners we haven’t seen, binge-watch old favorites and enjoy the movie-watching experience alongside beings other than our pets.