According to Nielsen, the average American watches about 4 hours of television a day. Of that, video-on-demand (VoD) streaming providers such as Netflix, YouTube, HuluY Amazon Prime Video they claim more than a third of our total television time. Combine that with live TV channel streaming services like YouTube TV, sling tvY fuboTV; YouTube claims that around 20% of the TV market, and more than half of the TV we watch today, comes from streaming.
Just a little problem. How do you find the shows and movies you want to watch on all those streaming services? Is not easy. You old TV Guide that used to live next to every TV in the country is not enough anymore.
Sure, streaming devices like the Amazon Fire TV, AppleTVY rokuand some models of smart TVs, such as Android TV, LG televisionsY Samsung TVs, offer some search function. But they are limited in what services they can seek. Even the best of the built-in search features, which is Roku Search for my money, doesn’t go far enough.
Fortunately for us, there are half a dozen apps and services that let you easily search over 100 streaming channels for your favorite TV shows and movies. That said, in my experience, only two of them, JustWatch and Reelgood, are good enough and mature enough to be worth your time watching TV.
Both JustWatch and Reelgood allow you to search for their shows on many, if not all, services. That includes more obscure streaming channels, including top free streaming services like Crackle, Pluto TV, and Tubi TV.
Both search services also allow you to select the streaming services you want to search for, so you don’t waste time looking for network results you don’t get. For example, if you subscribe to only Netflix and Amazon Prime Video and don’t plan on expanding, it doesn’t do you much good to know that Tom Hanks’ classic WWII movie Greyhound only available in AppleTV+.
Also: The 7 best streaming device deals: Get an Apple TV 4K on sale
In addition to having websites, both search services are available as Android and iOS apps and can also be downloaded as Smart TV apps on some Smart TV platforms.
Frankly, I prefer the web interfaces. There is too much information to easily navigate a complex search on a smartphone. Of course, if all you want to know is where to stream a recent great movie like Top Gun: Maverick — currently available for purchase at Amazon Prime Video, AppleTVand Google Play for $19.99; any app will work fine.
JustWatch is one of the oldest streaming search services. With it, you can search by title or actor name. You can also search for shows with a wide variety of filters, such as their subscribed services, release year, genre, rating, price, and resolution. So, for example, if you want to watch a free HD action-adventure movie available in Canada, you can find exactly that.
Creating a JustWatch account is easy. You can sign up using an email and password or using your Apple, Facebook, or Google account. But you don’t need an account to search for shows. So if you just want to know where a show is without any fuss or mess, you can do that too.
Also: Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku Streaming Stick: Which is Right for You?
By default, it will show you movies and shows from your favorite genres. For me, for example, he recently showed me Studio Ghibli, film noir, and sci-fi movies.
In addition to access via its website, the service is available as an app on Android and iOS devices and also runs on LG, SamsungY Amazon Fire TV smart tvs and microsoftxbox Y roku streaming devices.
With the mobile apps, clicking the Play on TV button will automatically start your show on your compatible TV or Roku device if your TV or Roku and your smartphone are all on the same Wi-Fi network.
Well, that’s the theory. In practice, it didn’t work that well for me with my LG OLED77C1 4K TV. On several occasions, it would lock my TV in search results and refuse to let me switch to another show.
That said, JustWatch has the largest selection of free streaming services. It’s also great for finding videos that are only available for rent or purchase. Among paid Video on Demand (VoD) networks, it supports Google Play Movies, KoreaOnDemand, Red boxY voodoo.
If a show is available to rent or buy on your services, it will show you where it is and its price. For example, if you want to see sonic the hedgehog 2you can see it for free on Amazon Prime Video either Paramount+ or rent it at a premium price of $5.99 at AppleTV+.
If you have an account, you can add your favorite shows to your watch list. As the service learns your preferences, it will start recommending other movies and TV shows based on what people with common interests watch.
Also: Top 5 Free Movie Apps
There is a paid version, JustWatch Pro, which costs $2.49 per month. The features of the Pro version aren’t as impressive: you can remove titles you’ve watched, add filters by country of production and MPAA ratings, and remove ads from the JustWatch app.
JustWatch claims to operate the largest streaming search engine in the world. That may be correct. It covers hundreds of streaming services and JustWatch is available in more than 50 countries. While its software, especially with its integration with smart TVs, could use some improvement, it’s an excellent guide to just about every streaming service you’ve ever heard of and some that will be completely new to you.
Reelgood is a great video search engine. It now includes more than 200 services, and those numbers continue to grow.
Like JustWatch, Reelgood allows you to set up an account with an email and password or your Apple, Facebook, or Google account. You can also search for shows without an account.
In addition to searching the most popular and obscure streaming services, Reelgood also allows you to search live TV channels that support TV Everywhere. This is a service that allows you to stream live TV, cable or satellite.
Also: Top 6 Live TV Streaming Services
Not all providers have TV Everywhere licenses for all of their TV networks. Also, not all networks offer live streaming from the web. When using TV Everywhere, the content comes from the network and not from your live TV provider. The net result is that there are currently around 36 TV networks available through TV Everywhere.
Still, if your favorite networks are among the ones TV Everywhere accesses, Reelgood lets you search for your favorite shows on them, as well as Netflix and the like. So, for example, you can search for episodes of Goalkeepereveryone’s favorite dysfunctional cartoon spy, both on your cable channels and online streaming providers.
Reelgood doesn’t support many free video services, which is a mark against it, but it does support the most popular ones. And it makes it easy to add all your favorite free and paid services and search for them. Its web interface reminds me of the Netflix interface, and that’s a good thing in my opinion.
You can also use the service through Android and iOS devices and on Android TV, Fire TV or LG televisions. In my experience, it works best on LG televisions than the other Smart TV options. Finally, you can combine Reelgood with roku using the Reelgood app as a Roku remote.
With Reelgood, you can easily search by title or actor name. For example, did you know that Leonard Nimoy’s first movie was a boxing B movie called baroni monk boy from 1952? Now yes, thanks to Reelgood. It is available for free on Tubi and Pluto TV.
Also: Best Netflix Alternatives
In addition to the usual newest and most popular lists, you can also browse categories like animation, mystery, and sci-fi. You can also easily find the newest shows or upcoming shows. Or, for that matter, you can search for shows that are soon leaving your streaming services. That’s a very useful feature if, like me, you keep wanting to watch movies until it’s too late. Combine this with a function to make your own “watch” lists, and that’s pretty handy.
Another feature I really like is that it provides, in addition to the usual plot synopses and cast and crew lists, is that you can see the IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes ratings and scores of your show. It also has its own built-in rating system, Reelgood Score, which I find useful.
Unlike the internationally oriented JustWatch, Reelgood only works in the US and UK. However, it allows you to use a virtual private network (VPN) to protect your privacy and view services available in the US and UK from other countries.