Scener now lets you co-watch HBO or Netflix in a ‘virtual theater’ with up to 20 people – ProWellTech

Scener, a browser extension that allows users to co-watch Netflix – similar to the popular Netflix Party Chrome add-on – is expanding to support HBO NOW and HBO GO. The additions go hand in hand with the full re-launch of Scener, who is reinventing his product for the coronavirus era as a virtual cinematic experience where up to 20 viewers can watch video, audio or text chat together in a dedicated sidebar .

In the near future, the company says it will also launch a “1-to-many” version of its virtual theater experience that will allow people to host even more synchronous viewers, similar to Instagram Live, but synchronized with the underlying subscription service. video content.

While some co-observation experiences are illegal – Twitch, for example, has been sued for allowing its creators to stream live sports games to their viewers. Video chat services such as Skype and FaceTime have been used for years as alternative solutions to the problem of not being able to watch U.S. content from abroad. But Scener works with content partners to make sure he has the appropriate offers to legally offer his product.

HBO has confirmed to ProWellTech that it has partnered with Scener to allow HBO NOW and HBO GO subscribers to view content through the Web extension in order to preserve their IP, but not comment on the specifics of the deal.

Additionally, Scener was unable to confirm whether its authorization to stream HBO content extended to WarnerMedia’s new HBO MAX service due to its launch on May 27, 2020.

However, Scener’s technology should be able to support any streaming service as long as the service offers a way to stream video content via the Chrome browser. To use Scener as a private virtual theater, the browser extension simply asks the user to grant permission to the sites in question.

Setting up the virtual theater experience itself is easy. There is no complicated software to install besides the extension. Friends can then join through a theater code or by clicking on an invitation link you send.

Originally part of RealNetworks, Scener in 2018 initially developed a Chrome extension that allowed users to record commentary video tracks that could be played asynchronously along with content on Netflix, Hulu and YouTube. This led to something like a “Mystery Science Theater 3000” -like experience, if you’re familiar with that show.

After leaving RealNetworks, Scener in 2019 created a product that instead synchronized the co-vision of Netflix content with video chat. He was also working on developing mobile prototypes with other content providers. But the COVID-19 pandemic has redirected Scener’s efforts on its extension to Chrome as the use of the product on the desktop has increased 15 times as the United States has gone into quarantine.

The new version, arriving today, is a complete reconstruction of that product, says Scener co-founder and COO Joe Braidwood. It is also just the beginning of what Scener has in store, he promises.

“It is essential for our company vision to support more [subscription video-on-demand] services in the near future, and we are also discussing with some [ad-supported video-on-demand] vendors, “he told ProWellTech.

The company has not announced what other deals may be in the pipeline, but its extension is asking for permission to read and edit the data on Hulu.com and DisneyPlus.com, in addition to the HBO websites. Scener could not comment on this, saying only that he is currently focused on building the best co-observation experience for HBO NOW and HBO GO programming. Without further confirmation, it is difficult to say whether the Disney / Hulu agreement (Disney is the majority owner of Hulu) wishes to think of Scener or a work-in-progress. Time will tell.

Scener has raised $ 1.6 million in funding since leaving RealNetworks. Generate revenue through its partnerships with streaming services to create engaging social experiences around its content, as in the case of today’s HBO affair. WarnerMedia has confirmed that it does not have a financial stake in Scener.

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