Tech Savvy: What to watch when and where wasn’t this easy

JustWatch is a free streaming guide intended to help viewers find where to watch their favorite movies and shows online.

JustWatch is a free streaming guide intended to help viewers find where to watch their favorite movies and shows online, and it recently saw an increase in streaming due to social distancing and stay-at-home orders in various countries.

“What to watch?” — a question as common as “What to make for dinner?” — but more vexing because of the myriad of options with streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.

The not-so-simple question harkens back to the golden era of satellite and cable TV providers, which offered more options than “The Big Three” networks: ABC, NBC and CBS.

JustWatch is a free streaming guide intended to help viewers find where to watch their favorite movies and shows online.

“We only show 100% legal offers on many different platforms for paid subscriptions, free streaming, streaming with ads, for rental and for purchase,” according to the developers’ website.

I’m not sure what is meant by “100% legal offers,” but since I’ve never ventured to the dark side of bootleg copies or illicit file-sharing sites — Napster, anyone? — I’ll focus on the positive.


At or by using the downloadable JustWatch app for iPhones or Android smartphones, a person can get personal recommendations for movies and TV shows.

“JustWatch is an international streaming guide that helps over 20 million users per month across 42 countries to find something great to watch on Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes, etc.,” Leonard Brahm said via email from JustWatch’s Berlin office.

For example, the online site asks “What are you in the mood for today? Learn. Feel good. Laugh. Think. Riddle. Empathize. Shudder. Motivate.” And based on the user’s answers, it attempts to tailor its recommendations based on the user’s feelings.

People can use JustWatch’s filters to only see certain kinds of offers and can also choose the streaming services they already have to only see content available to them. The free service creates personalized recommendations based on taste and the providers that are chosen.

“Over the last weeks, we’ve seen our traffic increase dramatically in some countries. We had a closer look at the number before and after lockdowns or other actions governments took to contain the spread and illustrated them in real-time,” Brahm said.

The impact of social distancing on streaming is astounding and the relationship between the two is undeniable. According to Brahm, the rise in traffic in the U.S. almost reached 200%.

“The whole JustWatch team has been working from home since March 11, and we encourage everyone to stay at home whenever possible,” Brahm said.

Most streaming players such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast and Apple TV, along with smart TVs, offer some type of universal search for content by typing queries into a search box on the screen or by using voice control, for example, in the case of voice-enabled devices like Alexa.


JustWatch uses , an open database, as the main data source for its content such as trailers, synopsis and titles, and checks the content of all the providers listed on JustWatch daily to match that with the corresponding movie or TV show, and availability.

“There are so many great movies and TV shows to discover, and we at JustWatch would be happy if we can help more people to make their time at home more enjoyable in times of social distancing and corona(virus) lockdowns,” Brahm said.

FRANK LEE, county and features reporter, may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at . Follow him on Twitter at .
I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write mostly features stories for the Wadena Pioneer Journal. The newspaper is owned by Forum Communications Co.
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