The party could host thousands of people, and it will take advantage of Scener’s ability to bring friends together in watch parties for streamed movies. During the COVID-19 crisis, Scener has rolled out support for bigger co-watching parties, which will allow viewers to watch a movie synchronously with text chat.
During the pandemic, this could be the next best thing to a Hollywood premiere.
“It’s the closest thing to a real-life screening,” said Joe Braidwood, chief operating officer at Scener, in an interview with VentureBeat. “We have worked with HBO on pulling together a really special event for these fans. We think this is a significant moment. For the industry, if you think back 13 months ago, the idea that a blockbuster Hollywood movie would debut in a digital-first format with an interactive chat and live video layer — that shows we’ve come a long way.”
Providing scalability for this event is the hardest challenge, Braidwood said.
“This has never been done before, and we’ve done a lot of work building out the tools,” Braidwood said.
Back in October, Seatle-based Scener raised $2.1 million to help it scale from a co-watching tool to a global community platform. Scener can now enable creators to curate, host, and share watch parties for up to a million audience participants. As an example, a comedian could give a continuous monologue as everyone in the audience watches in real time. The platform can support video chat, voice chat, and text chat, but it will only use text chat for the Snyder event because the audience is expected to be large.
The Scener and HBO Max event will start with Zack Snyder’s video chat beginning at 4 p.m. Pacific time on March 18. That will be followed by a virtual screening of the four-hour film (with an intermission). An active HBO Max subscription is required to join the festivities, but there is no additional cost to participate in the watch party.
Scener is creating a custom watch party HBO Max and Snyder’s film release. Scener will enable thousands of fans to gather for the virtual screening event hosted by Snyder himself. Scener’s video chat and messaging features will allow fans to hear stories from Snyder while also sharing reactions in real time with fellow fans. The audience will be able to send text questions to Snyder.
New and current HBO Max subscribers can join the public watch party by RSVPing at snydercut.scener.com prior to the event on March 18. The party will be open to users on both mobile and desktop devices, and users on Windows, Mac, or Chromebook devices will see the full synchronized movie playback experience alongside fan reactions, Snyder’s introduction, and more, leveraging Scener’s free extension from the Chrome Web Store.
Scener’s investors include SeaChange, Real Networks CEO Rob Glaser’s Glaser Investments, Jason Calacanis’ The Syndicate and Launch, the comedy commentary company RiffTrax, and angel investors such as RiffTrax CEO David Martin and technology executive Sriram Krishnan.
The company has eight employees and it first rolled out in 2018, after being incubated by media streaming pioneer RealNetworks. Justin Kan, the founder of Twitch, has become an adviser for the company. The company has about 1.5 million downloads on Chrome. More than 100 million minutes of synchronous viewing have happened on the platform. In February, there were 500,000 watch parties.
“This is a big moment for us,” Braidwood said.
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