Best Apps for Finding Where Shows and Movies Are Streaming

Free apps and websites now search hundreds of channels and services to help you find favorite films and programs

JustWatch home screen
JustWatch organizes titles in dozens of ways, including by genre, what's highly rated or trending, and what's new to a service.
Source: JustWatch

It’s a modern annoyance: You want to watch a particular TV show or film that’s probably streaming somewhere, but you don’t have a clue whether it’s on a subscription streaming service, such as Amazon, Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu, or Netflix; a free one, such as Pluto TV or Tubi; or only a pay-per-view option, like Apple iTunes or Vudu. Or maybe your movie isn’t available at all. Sifting through each service separately can be tedious.

There are easier ways to find out what’s streaming.

Most streaming media players, including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Roku, will look through multiple services to find specific titles. Many smart TVs will do the same. But the search functions can be clumsy to use, and limited in what they find. More often I’ve been relying on some free websites and mobile apps that do a much better job of hunting.

More on Streaming Services

A few years ago there were maybe a dozen apps or websites from which to choose, but since then the options have narrowed. Right now, I’m really using only two: JustWatch and Reelgood, though I have also tried out two more, TV Time and Watchworthy.

All four of these search across multiple streaming services as well as some “TV Everywhere” apps that let you stream content that you’re already paying for through a cable or satellite TV subscription.

JustWatch

Website, and Android and iOS Apps

JustWatch (shown at top) has recently upped its game. It acquired rival GoWatchIt a few years ago, and its coverage has greatly expanded during the past two years.

The service is easy to use; you enter the movie or show you want to watch and JustWatch will tell you where you can stream it. If it’s available to rent or buy, it will show you where to find the lowest price. One unique feature is that JustWatch will make movie and TV show recommendations based on what other people with similar tastes are watching.

The site’s home page shows you what’s new and popular. You can add TV shows and movies to your watch list by using a bookmark icon, and you can limit searches to services you already use by choosing them from a row of icons.

JustWatch organizes titles in dozens of ways, including by genre, what’s highly rated or trending, and what’s new to a service. It can even offer selections based on what mood you’re in. Now that many movie theaters are open again, JustWatch also shows you the top five movies currently playing, and provides alerts when they become available for streaming.

JustWatch now has a Play on TV feature, which lets you choose and play content for your television right from the smartphone app. You need to have JustWatch apps on both your smartphone and the TV for that to work, and they both need to be signed on to the same WiFi network. You choose the program or movie on the smartphone app, hit Play on TV, and the JustWatch TV app launches the selected streaming service. The TV app is available for Android and Google TV, Apple TV, Fire TV, LG and Samsung smart TVs, and Xbox consoles. It also works with Roku devices using the smartphone app by itself; you don’t need the JustWatch app on the Roku.

You can access JustWatch using a web browser on your computer and through iOS and Android phone apps. One app exclusive is that it can give you daily deal updates on rentals and purchases.

Reelgood

Website, and Android and iOS/tvOS Apps

Reelgood has greatly expanded the number of streaming services and TV channels it tracks, now covering about 150—and counting. It’s the site I currently use the most.

When you first sign up, you check all the services you have access to, and Reelgood searches across all of them. (It helped me realize that I now subscribe to a dozen paid streaming services—yikes!) You can add “free” as a search item, and it will look for free content from networks, along with platforms such as Crackle, PlutoTV, and Tubi.

Reelgood covers all the major subscription services, such as Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Netflix; niche ones like Acorn TV and Mubi; and premium channels, such as HBO and Showtime. It also includes Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+, and Peacock, to list just a few. Reelgood will also check TV Everywhere channels you can stream if you subscribe to a traditional pay-TV package. There’s also a section where you can find out where to rent or buy newer movies from pay-per-view services such as Amazon, Apple iTunes, and Vudu.

You can browse by title or genre, or simply scroll through rows of recommended content organized under headings such as “What’s Popular,” “Trending,” and “New.” Once you find something you want to a watch, press the play button and it will launch that service with your show pulled up. 

Reelgood homescreen
Using the Reelgood app's Play to TV feature, you can click on any content your search turns up to start watching on your smart TV.

Source: Reelgood Source: Reelgood

The service also lets you follow shows and movies. For TV shows, click “Track Series" on the show’s product card to build a lineup of unwatched episodes. For movies, click the “Want to See” button on a title to add it to a watch list. Your “Watch Next” section will let you know when new episodes or movies are available.

Reelgood’s Play to TV feature lets you play anything available on the Reelgood app directly on your smart TV just by clicking on the icon. Right now this feature is supported on Android, Fire TV, LG, and Roku smart TVs. When you select a program, it shows you a list of supported devices on your WiFi network, and you simply tap the one where you’d like to play it. You can use the app as a basic TV remote control.

You can access Reelgood online via its website, and it now has apps for both Apple iOS and Google Android smartphones as well as for Apple TV (tvOS), Android and Fire TVs, plus LG smart TVs. There’s no Roku app yet, but you can use the Reelgood mobile app on your phone to play content through your Roku player or TV.

TV Time

Android and iOS Apps

This service is newer to me; it’s an app that lets you track shows and movies and add them to a watch lists. You can also search for new movies or TV shows using the search bar, or find new content using a Discover icon at the bottom of the page.

When you visit for the first time, you’re asked to pick the shows and movies you either watch or plan to watch from a scrolling list. You can also note where you left off on a TV series, so you’ll start an episode right after the one you viewed, or where you left off in the show if you didn’t finish it.

TV Time home screen
TV Time asks you to choose which shows you're watching, or would like to watch.

Source: TV Time Source: TV Time

The streaming services that have the shows and movies you track appear in the “Where to Watch” section of the app. In addition to tracking and finding out where to watch them, you’ll get recommendations for other shows and movies, and find out when new episodes or seasons become available. Once you mark a show as watched, you can rate it or attach an emoticon to it

Using the Discover feature, you can get program recommendations based on the shows or genres you’ve already watched, or see which movies and series are trending among other users of the service. (You can give a thumbs down to those shows and movies you never want to view.) A “Discover More” section lets you filter your search by genre, status, and more. You can also see which shows or movies have been watched by your friends, and comment on programs.

The service also lets you earn badges based on how often you interact with the service by offering comments, creating memes, becoming an early follower of a show, or bingeing on a series.

When you make a selection, you’ll get sent to the streaming app, but there’s no option to play it directly on your TV as you can do with other services.

Watchworthy

Android and iOS Apps

Like the other apps, Watchworthy allows you to find shows by choosing the services you subscribe to or use. What makes Watchworthy stand out is that it does a nice job of providing personalized, crowdsourced recommendations from its parent company, Ranker. You can build a watch list of shows from TV networks and more than 200 streaming services, including popular ones such as Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu, and Netflix. The company says it will be adding movies later this year.

To get started, you need to spend about a minute swiping left and right, liking and disliking shows. (You can swipe up if you’re not quite sure.) Then, Watchworthy starts sending recommendations of other programs you’ll probably like by using a personalized “worthy” score. You add recommendations to your watch list by clicking on a plus sign.

Watchworthy home screen
Watchworthy's features include a watch list, and crowdsourced recommendations.

Source: Watchworthy Source: Watchworthy

Like the other services, Watchworthy lets you limit your results to see shows only from services you have access to. You can filter shows by service and genre, or even by MPAA ratings if you have kids. It also integrates Ranker’s existing TV lists and polls, such as “Shows for Self-Quarantine” and “Funniest Shows on Netflix.” Once you’ve selected a show you want to watch, you can start watching it either directly from your device or by casting it to your TV.

The company says that it will be adding movie recommendations to the app later on this year. Right now Watchworthy is available as either an Android or iOS app, but the company says that later this year it will add apps for additional devices, including Amazon Fire, Apple TV, and Roku streaming players.


James K. Willcox

I've been a tech journalist for more years than I'm willing to admit. My specialties at CR are TVs, streaming media, audio, and TV and broadband services. In my spare time I build and play guitars and bass, ride motorcycles, and like to sail—hobbies I've not yet figured out how to safely combine.