HBO is now officially on board with online streaming parties. The network has made its two streaming platforms, HBO Now and HBO Go, available on a new Chrome extension called Scener, which lets people watch the same thing with friends in the comfort of their homes. Scener co-founder Joe Braidwood emailed Gizmodo, where he called the pandemic a "watershed moment for the streaming industry."
The extension can be downloaded and installed on any Chrome browser, which creates a viewing window on your screen and generates a code that can shared with friends. After the movie or TV show is selected, the extension allows the option to interact with others via chat or video. Of course, there's an option to enlarge the window and shut out any background conversation. "Due to our steadfast focus on enabling people to be connected virtually while bringing their own subscription (BYOS), it's highly significant that this respectful approach to copyright has yielded a commercial partnership," Braidwood said about HBO's involvement.
Currently, Scener is supported on Windows, Mac, and Chromebook and can support up to 20 people dialing in at once. However, it stated that it plans on extending that number significantly "in the coming days." In the meantime, Scener can be installed via Chrome's online web store. The extension already works with Netflix, although their partnership isn't official, unlike HBO's.
This is the second major innovation that HBO has been behind since the coronavirus pandemic seemingly took over back in March. In early April, the network put 500 hours of its original content in front of a paywall, including iconic series like The Sopranos, Veep and of course Game of Thrones.
That same month, the network also made it clear it was still planning to debut its latest platform, HBO Max, on May 27. The new streaming service, which includes all of HBO's content plus a huge number of other offerings, will still be available. However, the Friends reunion special that was intended to be a part of launch day, will be postponed. WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer chairman Bob Greenblatt told Variety that they were "holding out for being able to get this special done hopefully by the end of the summer if the stars align and hopefully we can get back into production."
"We do think there's a value to having a big, raucous live audience to experience these six great friends coming back together and we didn't want to just suddenly do it on a web call with, you know, six squares and people shooting from their kitchens and bedrooms," he added.