Before you reach for the remote to turn on a blockbuster movie, the next episode of “The Bachelor,” or watch the NBA finals, why not invite some friends to join you? Watch parties are fun, engaging, and a great way to share experiences with others. It’s no surprise that synchronized group streaming is now a top priority for the entertainment industry—especially with the influx of new content hitting the market. In this post, we talk with two companies that are raising the bar in watch parties by taking the users into the future of the interactive watching experience. Let the live streaming innovation begin!
Wired rates Scener as one of its top five watch party solutions citing features such as video chat, slick interface, and good video quality. Scener’s COO and Co-Founder Joe Braidwood refers to the company as one that provides a “lean in” experience, a concept used when users are closely engaged with the streaming content. Scener allows users to sync Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, Prime Video, Funimation, or Vimeo with anyone. All guests need is a subscription to the same service they’re watching while one friend holds the remote control to start synching with the Chrome app extension.
Overcoming the Challenges of Interactive Streaming while Synchronizing Video on Demand (VOD)
The technology to create a quality user experience is complex, as “manually synchronizing VOD becomes increasingly difficult when adding more than one person to the stream,” Braidwood said in a recent V-Chat@RTE episode. As an example, Braidwood mentioned that if everyone in the watch party is going through a single host, “the resolution gets crunched which creates a really bad experience.” Another challenge for Scener was to control the stream through the use of one remote control. The company created a chrome extension which enables multiple users to give Scener permission to prioritize one person with the remote control to start all streams. Then “we overlay and augment that synchronized viewing experience with the video and the text and audio chat features that make it fun…to watch, launch, cry,” Braidwood said.
The Customized Sports Watch Party
Being a sports fan will never be the same now that LiveLike has entered the market. The company has a white-label platform that allows developers and product managers to use SDKs to customize the streaming of interactive sports events to their customers. LiveLike teamed with Agora to provide Sky Sports viewers with fan-friendly engagement that goes well beyond live chat.
“We need to partner with someone who had a scalable workflow from a video perspective—that’s how we came to work with [Agora],” said Miheer Walavalkar, co-founder and CEO of LiveLike. Based on feedback the company received from this year, LiveLike is planning ahead to next season and will add user polls and predictions while still allowing users the ability to talk to each other. “That’s the beauty of working with LiveLike,” said Walavalkar, “You can tweak that user experience.”
When Time to Market, Scalability, and Reliability Matters
Time to market is on every developer’s mind, and Agora’s Real Time Engagement platform can help implement solutions in a timely, scalable and realizable manner. “We went live in six weeks…and we needed to work with reliable partners on the infrastructure side to be able to launch (multiple) features…It is not a simple undertaking as there are a lot of moving parts to stream video properly and enable three or four layers of interaction around that,” said Walavalkar. For Scener, another consideration is the ability to scale to literally “millions of users.” The company banked on the reliability and scalability of the Agora platform when they had the opportunity to work with Comic-Con in San Diego this year to build a large community watch party for this year’s offline conference. Finally, both companies needed a solid solution where no latency or spoilers would interfere with the user’s streaming experience.
Conclusion: Watch Parties, Fad or Future?
Will watch parties go away when we can all return to movie theaters or sports arenas? At Agora, we think watch parties are here to stay and we are just at the beginning of creating amazing experiences between users and technology. As long as people yearn for entertainment and companionship with others, Agora’s Real-Time Engagement platform will support innovators who provide virtual spaces for meaningful human connections.
Attend the Premier RTE Conference in October
Want to know more about the future of Real-Time Engagement and how to launch your company into the future? Attend the premier RTE (and free) virtual event on October 13 and 14: Reimagine How We Play Learn Collaborate Engage and Connect. Or reach out now if you are ready to talk about how the Agora RTE platform might power your next project.