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How to have an Amazon Prime watch party with up to 100 friends

Amazon takes on Netflix Party with a new feature that will let you watch TV shows and movies from your laptop or desktop.

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Angela Lang/CNET

Amazon isn't one to let Netflix Party have all the fun. The company just announced a new service for your next binge watch with friends: Amazon Prime Video Watch Party. You can use it to watch hundreds of movies and shows from Amazon's catalog while chatting with up to 100 friends, no plugin or download required. 

Amazon started rolling out the Watch Party feature to Prime subscribers in the US in June. For now, the feature is available on almost all desktop browsers, except for Apple's Safari. Smart TVs, game consoles, mobile phones and tablets aren't currently supported. 

Virtual watch parties through Netflix and YouTube have been a boon for many during coronavirus lockdowns, giving friends and family a way to connect and socialize (and an excuse to order that wine or beer delivery). Even though many states have begun opening up, movie theaters and other places you may have gone to for fun are still closed, or open only with sizable restrictions -- making virtual watch parties a new mainstay. 

Here's how to set up an Amazon Prime Video Watch Party with your friends. 

Make sure everyone in your group has a Prime Video account or Prime membership

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Watch any show on Prime Video with the Watch Party feature.

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To use the Watch Party feature, everyone needs access to Amazon Prime. A Prime Video account costs $9 a month for a standalone subscription or comes as part of the $119 annual Prime membership. You have to be in the US to use the service. 

If your friends don't have Prime, Amazon offers a 30-day free trial for a subscription, just make sure they cancel before the month is up if they don't want to get automatically charged for the next month. You can also share your account with one other person, such as a family member, for two simultaneous streams. 

How to start a Prime Video Watch Party

After everyone's logged into their Prime accounts on their desktop browsers, you can get the Watch Party started. Here's how. 

1. Choose which show or movie you want to watch. 

You can choose from Amazon Prime's full catalog, which includes about 200 Amazon Original Series (including The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Fleabag, Good Omens, The Man In The High Castle and Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan) and tons of movies (such as The Big Sick, Manchester By the Sea, Late Night and The Report). You'll also find a massive catalog of B-movies if you're in the mood for something terrible yet fun to watch with friends. 

2. Once you've selected a movie or TV show, tap the Watch Party icon under the title.

3. A box will pop up that says Let's Start a Watch Party. Enter the name you want to use while chatting in the box. Hit Create Watch Party

4. You'll see a box that says Invite Friends, and includes a personalized link to share. 

5. Once everyone has entered the chat, you can start your Watch Party. The host can play, pause and seek for the group. (This is a little different from the Netflix Party extension, which allows anyone in the group to control the screen.) 

Looking for even more quarantine-friendly entertainment? Here's free entertainment to help you get through social distancing, free video chat apps to use if you're social distancing and the best two-player board games

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