There are too many streaming services, and all of them are fighting over content that feels like it’s bouncing back and forth between streaming sites on a daily basis. This has made sites like JustWatch — a streaming search engine and recommendation site — an essential tool as more and more of these services continue to launch.
JustWatch isn’t a new service; it’s been around since 2014. But the modern-day glut of streaming services and spiraling rights agreements have made it more essential than ever.
At its core, JustWatch is a search engine for digital media. Type in a movie or TV show, and it’ll tell you everywhere you can stream it, watch it for free with ads, buy, or rent it. Once you’ve found what you’re looking for, you simply click and it’ll link you directly to that service. It’s not the only site or app that does this, but I’ve found it to be far and away the most reliable and useful.
And that’s for a few reasons. The first is simply how comprehensive JustWatch is. It loops in basically every streaming service and TV show / movie seller under the sun — even ones that I had forgotten existed. Did I remember that CW Seed is a real website? Absolutely not, but it turns out it’s the only place you can currently stream the criminally underrated Pushing Daisies, something that I only learned from checking JustWatch. The site is also super up to date. HBO Max, for example, was already showing up in JustWatch results on the first day it was available. And seemingly no service is too obscure for JustWatch: it even has Quibi shows!
But what sets it above and beyond the rest is that you can also filter searches based on specific streaming services. Only subscribe to Hulu and Netflix? Your search results will only show those services, if you want. You can also use more advanced filters, sorting by just movies or TV shows, IMDB rating, or MPAA age ratings, too. Only interested in 4K? JustWatch can tell you if it’s available or not.
And if the movie you want isn’t available to stream somewhere, JustWatch also shows prices from basically every major retailer for renting or buying a film digitally. That’s extremely useful for comparing prices, whether you’re interested in building out your own digital library or just want the cheapest place to rent Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure this weekend.
JustWatch isn’t just limited to US services: it’s available in over 45 countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom. That makes it crucial in the streaming wars because what content is available, where it’s streaming, and even which services are available can shift wildly depending on what country you’re in. (For example, Star Trek: Discovery is a CBS All Access exclusive in the US, but available on Netflix in the UK.)
With streaming catalogs continuing to shift and change over the coming months and years (just ask WarnerMedia, which has already had to amend HBO Max advertisements to note some movies will soon be leaving the service or aren’t available yet), finding who has the rights to the movie you want to watch is only going to get more difficult. And while nothing short of shifting market forces is likely to change that anytime soon, at least there are services like JustWatch to help sort out the chaos.