Where to look for streaming movies and TV shows
Thanks to services such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, and (to a lesser extent) YouTube, you can stream thousands of movies and TV shows to your computer, TV, or mobile device. What you may be less sure about is where to find out exactly what’s available on the various services. Is it possible to find a “free” streaming copy Movie X on Netflix or Amazon, or must you instead look to a rental or—far worse yet—purchase? Thankfully you needn’t conduct tedious Google searches to find what you want. With the right link or service in hand you can find what you desire in a hurry.
Netflix Watch Instantly remains one of the most popular ways to stream movies. And because it is, there are several ways to find out what’s new to the service as well as how long the service is going to keep its current offerings.
Turning to Netflix itself, you can, of course, check out the New Arrivals page. This page is specifically for new content offered for streaming. (If you’re looking for new DVD releases, there’s a page devoted to that as well.) You can additionally check out the All DVDs Releasing This Week and More New Releases pages. These display not only DVDs, but the rare new release that’s also available to stream.
Discovering what’s about to expire is more difficult, and for this information you turn to other sources—it’s not something that Netflix is eager to share. One of these sources is FeedFliks. On this site you’ll find not only information about videos that will expire in the next couple of weeks, but also videos that have just arrived, that are coming soon, and those just-expired. Instantwatcher.com also has a page that details titles due to expire soon.
Again, these sites can only show titles that are going to expire in the near future. According to FeedFlik’s blog, this is due to a change in Netflix’s expiry API. The purported reason for this is to make losing a lot of movies at once less obvious. (Netflix lost more than a thousand movies when its agreement with Starz expired last February.)
And don’t forgot TechHive’s own Now Streaming series, which highlights good movies to watch on Netflix streaming from a real live film critic, as well as what’s coming soon and about to expire.
Amazon Instant Video
Although Netflix remains the most widely used streaming video service, it’s not the only one. Amazon Instant Video is also a popular choice—particularly for those who’ve subscribed to Amazon’s $79-a-year Amazon Prime service. To see what’s new as well as what’s coming to the service, visit Amazon’s Hot New Releases page. Here you’ll find new releases, best sellers, and top rated and most wished-for entries.
If you are a member in good standing of Amazon Prime, there’s the Prime Instant Videos page. On this page you’ll find links for browsing most popular, recently added, and best reviewed movies and TV shows. You can additionally browse by genre and view editors picks.
Hulu’s (and Hulu Plus’) strength is TV shows, though it has a small collection of movies the vast majority of people have never heard of. On Hulu’s site you can browse and search for current content as well as check out what’s been recently added to the site. You can, for example, view all recently added full-length TV episodes. Or if you’re more interested in new shows that have been added, you can do that too. (Just as you can with TV clips.) Similarly you can browse a list of recently added full-length movies, movie trailers, and clips.
YouTube isn’t only a repository for cat videos and frat boys engaging in Darwin-Award-winning kinds of activities. It’s also become an avenue into Google Play—Google’s media service. Using the YouTube front-end you can find both recently released paid movies (which you can rent or purchase) as well as some free movies.
And, of course, there’s Apple’s iTunes Store. As for free streaming, iTunes’s offerings are pretty meager—you’ll find movie featurettes and some TV episodes, but not full-length movies. To see what’s free on iTunes, check out the page of the same name.
If you’re willing to pay, iTunes has scads of TV shows and full-length movies. You can purchase or rent (although not always during the same window) movies, but TV shows are only available for purchase these days.
Finding it, now
Helpful as these many resources are, there are times when you simply want A Particular Movie Right Now and you don’t care which service offers it. Rather than ping-pong among multiple websites to find that movie, turn instead to Can I Stream It. This one-stop shop for locating available movies is invaluable.
Can I Stream It lets you search Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Crackle, YouTube, and Epix for the movie you desire (it doesn’t currently support TV shows). An intuitive interface details which services offer a selected film as a free stream, for rent, for electronic purchase, for disc (DVD or Blu-ray) purchase, or to Xfinity subscribers.
Rather than searching for a specific title, you can browse by most popular searches as well as browse the most popular movies on each of the supported services. If you’d prefer to check out Can I Stream It from your mobile device, there are free apps are available for both iOS and Android.