Streaming services are a mess, but JustWatch keeps me sane

Roger Fingas / Android Authority

I think we’re all aware at this point that cutting the cord hasn’t simplified our lives as some of us hoped. The initial promise seemed to be that we could subscribe to one or two services and get lots of movies and TV shows. However, as the number of services has multiplied, the content has become more fractured and companies have embraced the idea of ​​platform exclusives as a hook. You’ll only be able to watch Foundation on Apple TV Plus, for example, or The Witcher on Netflix.

When shows and movies aren’t exclusive, they can still be extremely difficult to locate. I love watching movies while weightlifting, which means watching over a dozen movies a month and finding specific titles that boost me – Conan the Barbarian or Rocky IV, for example. But a movie available on one service may switch to another without warning, or sometimes disappear altogether in a futile attempt to charge me for a rental or purchase. JustWatch has helped me keep my lifting evenings on track, not to mention parties and movie nights with my wife.

See also: The best video streaming services

What is JustWatch?

JustWatch is available through the web, mobile apps for Android and iOS, and TV apps for Android TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, Xbox, and select LG and Samsung bundles. Each version is free, but in the mobile apps you can pay a few dollars to upgrade to JustWatch Pro, which removes ads and allows more complex search filters.

Basically, JustWatch is a service that records movies and shows available anywhere. Once you’ve told it what services you use, you can search for a title and it’ll display all of the compatible options for streaming, renting, or owning, sometimes with links to start watching right away. The service shows that I can stream Conan the Barbarian for free on Peacock, for example, or rent it from services like Amazon and YouTube. If I wanted to buy it, there are many options.

Related: The best media streaming devices you can buy

JustWatch also tells you if a title is ad-supported or requires subscription, and in the case of rentals and purchases, the exact price from each vendor. While Conan currently costs $ 15 to buy from Apple or Amazon, for example, it’s $ 3 less from AMC. Filters allow you to highlight free options or 4K resolution if quality is the priority. (There is unfortunately no 4K remaster of the original Conan.)

You can add any of your choices to a personal watchlist and help expand it with Netflix-style recommendations based on what’s popular, as well as what you’ve marked Seen and Liked (or Hated. ). A minor downside is that if something is on your watchlist, but you mark it as seen, it’s automatically removed from your list as if you’d never want to watch it again, whether you like it or not.

How JustWatch keeps me sane

The JustWatch Web Watchlist

Roger Fingas / Android Authority

I’m a busy man with a wife and a preschooler which is another reason I watch movies while training – there are things I would never have an excuse to see if I limited them to the rare occasions when I was watching something with my wife or friends. It also means that I can’t afford to waste time choosing something, not when my workouts easily exceed two hours and there are chores like washing up and bathing on top of everything. rest.

When I sit down with my wife or friends, it’s the ability to shop that matters most.

JustWatch’s mobile apps mean that by the time I have weights in hand, I have reduced what I would like to see and how I will see it. New releases or my mood can turn things around – I can choose something light when I’m down – but it’s always better than having to search for apps for 30 minutes, or toss my fate to the wind with films that I don’t know with (which means something, for a film graduate).

When I sit down with my wife or friends, it’s the ability to shop that matters most. Typically one of us has a clear idea of ​​what we want to watch, it’s just a matter of figuring out where we can watch it while spending as little money as possible. This is especially important during the holidays, as snack expenses can add up and sometimes we have kids and partners to come back to.

Are there alternatives to JustWatch?

A list of films on the web version of Letterboxd

Sort of, but they’re not one to one. Roku is famous for integrating app-independent search functions into its smart TV platform, including voice search. It’s really great, but sometimes it’s not as fast and seamless as JustWatch, and there are only two places you can use it: Roku devices or the company’s mobile app. Similar things can be said about Apple TV search, only worse. It’s limited to proprietary devices, tends to show fewer results, and relies on a “To Do” queue instead of a Watchlist. Apple, just because I finally want to watch something doesn’t mean it has to be put next to what I have on the go.

Read more: The best movie apps for Android

Perhaps the most popular alternative to JustWatch is Letterboxd, which is available on the web, Android, iOS, and Apple TV, and allows you to compile a watchlist while providing similar details on how you can watch. Something. It’s more of a social network than a streaming tool, however, and it shows in its interface, which is geared towards rating, reviewing, and sharing content. If all you’re trying to do is jump into a movie as fast as you can, you might want to consider Reelgood, which is functionally similar to JustWatch, but not the best at the moment due to bugs on Android. For me, JustWatch is an essential time saver in the world of streaming.