How to watch TV with friends—even when you can’t be together

Stay social without going out.

When you’re home alone, you can entertain yourself with an overwhelming variety of videos: cute cat clips on YouTube, the latest shows on Netflix, even the Super Bowl—just to name a few. But sometimes you don’t want to host a watch party for one. Thanks to the magic of the internet and a few well-chosen tools, you can invite your family and friends into the same virtual space and tune into whatever your heart desires, no matter where your crew actually is.

You bring the popcorn, and we’ll show you how to watch videos together when you’re apart.

For any online video: Kast

Kast is the most comprehensive video-watching option here, but it comes with a price. The free tier only lets you invite people to watch whatever’s available on free Kast TV, but sign up for the base membership ($10 per year) and you unlock the ability to share your screen with your virtual party guests—even if they have a free account. There’s also a premium level ($60 per year) that offers additional perks such as HD screen sharing. The web, desktop, and mobile app’s interface is polished and features both text and video chat.

Begin by visiting the site and signing up for an account. From the dashboard, hit Create Party to set things up. Then, invite guests by sending them the link to your party or searching for their Kast username. Start the party by using the icons at the bottom of the window to browse videos or share your screen. If any of this feels like the now-defunct video party service Rabbit, you’re right—Kast acquired what was left of Rabbit after the latter shut down in 2019.

Kast is free with paid tiers and available for Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.

For streaming services: Teleparty

If you want to watch Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, or HBO with friends, install Teleparty—a browser extension for Chrome, Opera, and Edge. Formerly known as Netflix Party, this plug-in creates a virtual viewing session that all participants tune into, with everyone’s video and audio automatically staying in sync. If you’re specifically looking to watch the Super Bowl, Teleparty can help as long as you’re subscribed to Hulu Plus Live TV.

It’s remarkably simple to use. When you want to set up your viewing session, just use your browser to open a video one of those streaming services and click the Teleparty button. You can decide whether you want other to have control of the video content or to keep it all for yourself. Hit Start the party to get a unique session URL, which you can pass along to your fellow watchers. They’ll use their versions of the same extension to connect with your viewing session. As you all watch together, you can type your reactions and opinions into a group chat box.

Teleparty is free for Chrome, Edge, and Opera browsers.

For YouTube, Vimeo, Twitch, TikTok, and other social media: Watch2Gether

Watch2Gether works a lot like the other sites on this list—you create a virtual room, choose some content, and invite your friends along to watch and chat. But it offers more features than most other options, such as providing popular and recommended videos if you’re not sure what to watch next. In addition to the standard text chat, it also allows you to add webcam feeds so you and your friends can see each others’ faces.

You don’t need an account to use Watch2Gether. Just head to the website and click Create your room, which should take you to a unique web address. When you go to that virtual room, you can use the search box at the top of the page to look for videos by keyword or pasting URLs from a variety of websites. It works well for YouTube, Vimeo, and Twitch, but you may need to install a Chrome extension to use video from other sites, such as TikTok. When you know what you want to watch, hit the Invite friends button (an avatar with a plus symbol) in the top right to share the room address with other people. They can join you by clicking that URL, with no sign-up required.

Watch2Gether is free online.

For YouTube: Sync Video

To watch YouTube clips with friends, try Sync Video, which has a clean layout that makes its interface very easy to use. Sync Video works through a website, so you won’t have to install new software or add a browser extension. You won’t even need to create a dedicated account, although you can do so if you’d like to save playlists of videos. Instead, you visit the site, set up a viewing room with a unique URL, and add links from YouTube to the room’s playlist. Then share the URL with anyone you want to join you. A text chat box underneath the video lets your friends keep up a running commentary on what’s happening.

Sync Video is free online.

For Facebook: Watch Party

Sure, you won’t turn to Facebook to watch TV shows or films, but what if you want to view home videos with distant family members? Try Watch Party, a feature that lets you broadcast a stream of selected clips to whoever you invite. Just know that it only works with videos hosted on Facebook.

First, click the empty text box at the top of your News Feed or timeline as if you were going to create a new post. Then, hit the three dots at the end of the Add to Your Post menu and select Watch Party. Search for videos and check the box next to each one you want to add to your queue. Once you’ve made your selections, use the View Queue link to make any final adjustments to the order they’ll play in. If you don’t want all your friends to see the party, you can adjust the privacy settings from the drop-down menu under your name. You can add a description before you hit Post, and once it’s live you can invite friends and discuss the content in a live chat box.

Watch Party is built into Facebook.

David Nield

David Nieldis a tech journalist from the UK who has been writing about gadgets and apps since way before the iPhone and Twitter were invented. When he's not busy doing that, he usually takes breaks from all things tech with long walks in the countryside.