Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Finding what to watch

For a while, streaming platforms have been implementing ways to find what it is you want to watch. If you're like me, you don't really care what service and app carries certain content, just that the content you want is available ... and it's easy to find. It's that "easy to find" part that is hard.

Roku search was one of the best early ways to find content. Roku was service independent. They didn't care where it was, if their database had the content you wanted, it pointed you to it, or the multiple apps/services that had your content. Then Roku began doing what the others did and started featuring content from their streaming service, the Roku Channel.

Of course it makes sense to feature your carrying of the content. If a movie you want is on Roku Channel and on Xumo, for instance, Roku would rather you watch it on their service so they get the ad hits and more ad revenue.

Amazon did this a lot right out of the chute. Fire TV is essentially the Amazon Prime Video app with all the other apps being available, but not really featured. And Google did the same thing with Android/Google TV. They featured their content above other services and apps carrying the same content.

Now, to be sure, Amazon didn't hide other services/apps that carried the content you wanted. Neither did Google. And, when Roku began doing that -- to a lesser degree, but still doing it -- there was no truly independent way of finding content.

This week, a couple of Websites had articles on a couple of services that are taking another stab at being an independent resource of finding streaming content. One is called OneFlix, and it has information from some of the major streaming services.

Citing the need to help users find content instead of spending their time searching for it Oneflix pulls together the content from Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, HBO Max, Hulu, Peacock, and Paramount+ into one interface that puts the content from the most well-known streaming services in one place.

The big drawback is that this is for tablets, not set top streaming devices or sticks.

Also, another service says they're going some of the same thing. But this is available on streaming devices. Because it's Plex that is doing it.

And with our unified Watchlist, now you can keep a single, central list that covers what you might want to watch on any service. So, instead of a watchlist on your HBO Max account and your Amazon Prime service and your FXNow service, you just add it all to your Plex Watchlist. And what’s better, when you add Beavis and Butt-Head Do America to your list, we’ll always know where you can watch it when you’re ready—because it was on Hulu when you added it but who knows what service(s) it’s on now (oh that’s right, we do!).

Since Plex has is own content with ads, will they focus on theirs, as other services have? Will they actually present others with the same emphasis? They say they will.

Yep. We will tell you that too. Even if it means sending you to one of our many well-funded competitors. Because again, our mission is to serve you and your needs. While we have a great amount of free movies, shows and other content (over 50,000, titles last we counted) and over 250 free Live TV channels that we think you’ll love, we’re smart enough to realize that it’s a big universe out there, and the heart wants to watch what the heart wants to watch. So again, our goal is to support your viewing experience, no matter where it takes you. You can trust that the results we are providing you with are the most accurate ones around.

If they mean it, and follow through on this, we may have found our Holy Grail. So now I'll update my Plex app then search for Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and see if I have indeed found it, in both respects.

If Plex follows through, or if OneFlix develops an app for Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, etc., then we'll have a couple of good options in our Streaming Lives.

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