The fundraising was led by Seattle-based SeaChange, a back-end streaming technology provider. Other participants included Glaser Investments, Jason Calacanis’ Syndicate, Launch, RiffTrax and angel investors including RiffTrax CEO David G. Martin and tech executive Sriram Krishnan.
Scener plans to use the funding to develop additional products for its social platform, which can accommodate up to 1 million viewers in a virtual launch party. Viewers connect via a Chrome browser extension and exchange text messages and video chats in a column to the right of the screen where the film or TV show is playing.
Launched in 2018, the startup was early to the social viewing space, which is an increasingly popular area, especially during the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020. Hulu, Disney and Amazon Fire have all introduced their own social add-ons in recent months.
After debuting with Netflix, Scener now works with more than 10 streaming services, including Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Alamo On Demand, Hulu and YouTube. Since the onset of the pandemic, Scener has seen almost half a million active Chrome installs and more than 13.5 million viewer minutes per week.
Disney this week introduced GroupWatch, which allows up to seven account holders to co-view on a big screen. Scener is also planning to develop applications of its technology that can be used in the living room, as browser-based experiences represent a fraction of the overall streaming audience. One caveat with GroupWatch, at least for the moment, is that it allows only a handful of emojis to be shared, not text.
“Scener is the premier way to host and enjoy watch parties and fills a void for so many of us as the movie theater experience, a beloved pastime, remains in limbo and more people turn to streaming,” said Susan Preston, Managing Partner at SeaChange. “Scener’s ability to coalesce storytelling and social experiences into a single platform, agnostic across major streaming platforms, is incredibly impressive and drove our confidence in this small and scrappy Seattle-based team. Their product creates a genuine feeling of togetherness and has grown tremendously as a result. We are very bullish on what the future holds for Scener.”
Joe Braidwood, co-founder and COO of Scener said the new funds will “speed up our plans to bring Scener to new services and devices, as well as build up our community of incredible party hosts — from RiffTrax to Fantastic Fest.”