Clearly, it's a modern problem: You want to watch a particular TV show or film, but don't have a clue whether it's on a streaming subscription service such as Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, or a pay-per-view one like FandangoNow or Vudu. Or maybe it's not yet available at all. Sifting through each service separately to find the shows and movies can be both tedious and challenging.
But it doesn't have to be. Some streaming players, such as Roku, will now look through multiple services to find specific titles. So will some search engines, including Google. But more and more I've been relying on specialized, free sites and apps that do the hunting for me. Many let you filter searches so they'll only look through those services you actually use. Some free sites let you build up watchlists of shows you want to watch, and then get alerts when they hit a streaming service, or if the price drops.
There are now more than a dozen free sites and apps that can help you find shows and movies across multiple services. Here are a few that we like.
Can I Stream It?
You can go directly to the website, or use the free iOs and Android apps and type in the name of the movie or show you're looking for. Then, Can I Stream It? will let you know which service carries it, and if it's available free anywhere—or else, how much you'll have to pay to rent or buy it. The search includes most of the top subscription and á la carte services, and you can filter by service. If a movie isn’t yet available, you can set up a reminder to get notified when it is.
GoWatchIt initially covered just movies, but it's about to roll out extensive coverage of TV shows as well. The free site, also available as an iOs and Android app, covers all the major subscription and pay-per-view services, and you can add titles to your “queue” to find out when they become available. There’s also a social element: You see how many other users have the same movie queued, and can share your list with friends. The service has teamed up with Fandango to let you know when upcoming movies hit the theaters.
JustWatch—also a free site that's available as an iOS or Android app—searches for TV shows and movies across 18 different streaming services, and tells you where you can stream or buy each one and where you’ll find the lowest price. The site’s home page shows you what’s popular at the moment, and and lets you limit searches to only those services you actually use. Set up your Watchbar and you can filter the results by attributes such as genre or release year. JustWatch is also available as an iOS or Android app.
Do you rely on your friends' opinions more than reviews? Then check out Reelgood, an iOS app that will soon be available for Android as well. Like the other services, Reelgood will crawl through a variety of streaming services—10 right now—to find what you want to watch. But its greatest value is building watchlists of movies you want to see, comparing it to what your friends have on their lists, and then sharing recommendations. For an even more social experience, it'll tell you when a movie is playing in a nearby theater so friends who have indicated they want to see the film can actually meet in person.
Although the Fan TV set-top box has been discontinued, the TV and movie search service is still going strong. Fan TV is available as an iOS and Android app, on Android TVs, and as a website. In all those manifestations, it lets you search for shows and movies across multiple streaming services, 44 at last count. When you add titles to your WatchList you'll get updates on when and where they appear, and you can share recommendations with friends, check out trailers for upcoming movies, and even buy movie tickets. New services, such as HBO Now, are regularly added when they launch.
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