In this golden age of television, it's difficult to keep up with all of your shows, let alone discover new ones. There are so many TV channels and streaming services producing quality content that I have this constant feeling that I'm missing must-see TV.
When a friend tells me about a show I should be watching, I need an app to tell me how I can watch it. That is, whether it's on a free cable channel or HBO (I'm a subscriber because winter is coming) or available on Netflix or Amazon Prime. And if not, then how much will it cost to purchase on iTunes or elsewhere.
Just as there are many outlets for great TV, there are many apps that endeavor to help you discover great TV (and movies). I had previously used the Can I Stream It? app but it hasn't been updated in more than two years, so it's time to find a new app for keeping up with TV.
I used the shows "The Americans" and "Silicon Valley" as tests. I started watching "The Americans" on FX when it first starting airing, but I fell behind and then FX took away season 1 from Xfinity On Demand. So, I want to catch up with "The Americans" while also picking up "Silicon Valley" from its beginning.
After kicking the tires on a number of video-discovery apps, I have narrowed the list to three. Let's meet our three finalists before we get to my pick for the best of the bunch.
Fan TV has a feed you can browse to find new shows and also displays live TV listings if you tell it your TV provider, but neither of these features interest me. I just want to search for a show and find out where I can watch it. Fan TV lets you search for TV shows and movies and displays the price for the HD versions of shows and movies, which is what I'm after.
In settings, you can select which TV channels and streaming services you want it to search. It offers more than 50 channels and streaming services.
I had to hunt around a bit before I was able to drill down to season 1 of "The Americans." Fan TV displays streaming and purchase information on its landing page for a TV series, but hides the season information behind the Watch Now option. And after you select a specific season, you then must to drill down to a specific episode to see the streaming and purchase options.
With Fan TV, you can create two lists -- Watch List and I'm a fan -- to keep track of your shows. You can also create new lists to track, say, horror movies worth watching.
Fan TV is free and available for Android and for iOS.
When you first launch JustWatch, it asks you to choose the streaming service providers that your use. What I like about its approach is the limited number it offers. If you use an obscure streaming service, you'll be disappointed, but I like not having to go through dozens of TV channels and services that don't interest me. I was quickly able to select Netflix, Amazon Video, HBO Now and iTunes and move on.
JustWatch also makes it easy to find streaming and purchase information, displaying it for both full seasons of shows and individual episodes. It shows the Best Price, SD and HD price. Since SD usually equates to best price, it could probably reduce these three pricing options to two, but they are easy enough to switch between.
JustWatch also has a WatchList to which you can add shows, which is standard fare. Unique to JustWatch is its Price Drops tab, that shows you movies and TV shows that have recently dropped their purchase price. It also has a Cinema tab that shows both Upcoming movies and those Now in theaters.
JustWatch is free and available for Android and for iOS.
Yidio attempts to recommend shows based on your tastes. When you first launch the app, it asks you to pick at least of your three favorite shows. In order to do so, however, you will need to sign up for a free account via email or Facebook.
Yidio is better suited for a tablet than a phone because it assumes you want to watch shows on the device upon which you are searching. It filters its results based on the video apps you have installed on your device, which isn't the best arrangement if you use your phone to find TV shows to watch on a TV.
Like Fan TV, Yidio forces you to drill down to individual episodes to view streaming and purchase information. And it doesn't let you pick between SD and HD prices, always showing the lowest price for a show when what I want to see the HD price.
Yidio is free and available for Android and for iOS. It is also the only app of the three here to feature ads, detracting from its overall appeal.
And the winner is...
My go-to video-discovery app is JustWatch. It is the easiest to set up with its targeted list of streaming services. I also found the app's design the easiest to navigate, and I like that it surfaces pricing information without making me dig down to individual episodes. It also has the cleanest layout of pricing information, making it easy to toggle between SD and HD prices. Lastly, I enjoy being able to peruse the movies that are currently in theaters and the titles that are coming soon.