Scener raises $2.1M as more viewers — and streaming services — lean into social television – GeekWire

Scener raises $2.1M as more viewers — and streaming services — lean into social television – GeekWire

Scener raises $2.1M as more viewers — and streaming services — lean into social television – GeekWire

A host leading a co-watching party on Scener during a movie being streamed online. (Scener image)

Scener, the platform that allows streaming media viewers to watch and chat together in a virtual movie theater setting, has raised $2.1 million in seed funding, the Seattle startup announced Thursday.

Spun out of RealNetworks, the 2-year-old company is being backed by Seattle-based SeaChange along with Glaser Investments, the fund run by RealNetworks founder and CEO Rob Glaser. Jason Calacanis’ Syndicate, LAUNCH, RiffTrax also contributed, as did angel investors including RiffTrax CEO David Martin and tech executive Sriram Krishnan, according to a news release.

Scener uses a free Google Chrome extension and its Watch Party Platform allows anyone to host a screening with up to 10 co-hosts on video chat and up to 1 million viewers. As more streaming providers experiment with their own co-watching features — Netflix has “Netflix Party” and Disney+ just launched “GroupWatch” — Scener was an early innovator and supports playback on at least 10 major streaming services, including the aforementioned as well as Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and YouTube.

Scener co-founder Joe Braidwood told GeekWire that it’s “incredible” to see the industry finally embrace social TV.

“When we started out a couple of years ago, many in the industry told us social TV experiences would never happen … that they’d been tried and failed. Now we’re seeing major entertainment brands embrace the concept,” Braidwood said.

He added that the convenience of having all of your friends, followers and content sources in one place helps Scener stand apart from the ways certain services are “beginning to lean in to co-watching.”

The company is poised to reach 500,000 active installs of its product and almost 14 million minutes of co-watching each week.

Scener previously reported substantial growth during the pandemic as more people turn to at-home forms of entertainment. It’s more than just missing movie theaters. Braidwood credits people’s desire to find new and engaging ways to connect online and said watch parties complement the traditional ways of watching premium video.

“In the same way that video games and other virtual communities are booming, so are we,” Braidwood said.

Scener, which employs five, said it will use the funding to accelerate product development for its social platform and boost its events and community of watch party hosts. Earlier this summer, it was the exclusive watch party affiliate for San Diego Comic-Con when that event went virtual because of COVID-19. In October, Scener is debuting a watch party series called “Stream & Scream,” to bring together those obsessed with the horror genre.

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