If you are a television fan who likes to tweet along as you watch, then viewing TV shows on Netflix can be a disappointing experience. Sure, you can share your password with a friend across the country, but you can't watch the same episode at the same time. Social TV viewing isn't for everyone, but it can be a wonderfully snark-filled experience. Especially if you're hatewatching, which is always more fun in a group.
Now thanks to a new Google Chrome extension called "Showgoers," you can sync up your Netflix player with a friend's so that you can watch the same Netflix movie together. The only requirement is that you have to be watching Netflix with your browser and you both need to have the free Showgoers extension installed. And then it's time to crank up the snark.
Showgoers is remarkably easy to use. Visit the Showgoers page in the Google Chrome Store and install the extension. Go to the Netflix page of the video you want to sync and at the top of the player, you'll see a small pair of multi-colored sunglasses. Click the sunglasses and you'll get a unique url you can share with anyone. Click "Begin Sync Mode" and when they join the session they will see the same thing you do. You can pause or unpause the show (or movie) or move to a different spot in the show and whomever is synced with you will see the same thing at the exact same time.
Obviously the Showgoers extension is unofficial and so far Netflix has declined my requests for a comment on the idea. But this idea does show that it would be possible to use Netflix in a very different, more social way. In some ways, Showgoers is an early example of a Twitch TV-like viewing experience.
It's a fascinating idea and I suspect that it's also one that is fraught with contractual problems. A primary one would be whether or not the rights to simultaneously stream a title is covered by the current contract between Netflix and the content owners.