With the novel coronavirus now a pandemic, health officials everywhere are urging, even begging people to be safe and smart: everyone, young and old, healthy or otherwise, needs to stay home and not engage in social activities for fear that COVID-19 will become even more widespread than it already is. With limited testing in the United States and only a certain number of cases confirmed with an unknown number of asymptomatic people spreading the virus, it now more important than ever to practice social distancing. That means not going outside unless it's for the essentials like food, medicine, and gas, or for exercise. In all cases, it is important to maintain a 6-foot distance from all others around you.
Yes, that means that you can't hang out with your friends for the time being and the foreseeable future. For the more introverted or the solo adventurers of the world, that may not be as difficult. But for those who thrive on social interaction, Netflix is trying to make social distancing and isolation a little easier: one of the best movie and TV streaming sites partnered with Chrome to create an extension called Netflix Party.
Netflix Party will allow Netflix users to watch movies and TV shows in sync with friends who also have a Netflix account. It's really easy to set up, and best of all, it's free. Here's how it works.
- Go to www.netflixparty.com in your Chrome browser. Click on the button "Get Netflix Part for free!"
- You will be redirected to a Chrome extension page that will prompt you to install the extension. Click on "Add to Chrome," then click "Add extension" in the pop-up window.
- The extension will be installed in the top right corner of your Google Chrome browser, and will be identifiable by the initials "NP."
- For the extension to work, your friends also need to download it.
- Next, in your Chrome browser, log into Netflix and select the feature you want to watch. Click on the extension.
- Now, you will have the option to be the only one in control of the feature in terms of pausing, fast forwarding, and rewinding. Or, you can extend these privileges to others in you virtual watch party.
- Click on "Start the party" and a URL will appear. Copy and send this link to your friends invited to your party. Once they paste and go the link in their Chrome browsers, they should also click on the Netflix Party extension.
- This should allow everyone to be all synced up. There's even a chat box everyone can interact in to make the experience better.
Of course, this doesn't come close to watching a movie or TV show with your friends sitting right next to you. And this way of watching is only available on Chrome, which means that you can't log into your account on your TV and try out Netflix Party. But it's a pretty significant step to making social isolation a little more bearable.
Disney Plus and other streaming services making changes
Netflix isn't the only streaming service making changes to give users respite from the doom and gloom of the past few weeks and the next weeks to come. Disney Plus released Frozen 2 three months ahead of schedule to keep little ones occupied while they spend more time at home. Hulu has also released three episodes of "Little Fires Everywhere" starring Reese Witherspoon early.
Universal Pictures is also trying to ease the blow of social distancing by offering new releases like Emma, The Hunt, and The Invisible Man for $20 for at-home streaming as a 48-hour rental.