How to find where your favorite movies and shows are streaming

Don't waste time hunting down content.
The user interface for Netflix on a computer in a browser window.
Find out where you can get your favorite movies and shows, digitally. Charles Deluvio / Unsplash

This story has been updated. It was originally published on January 12, 2019.

You know what you want to watch—but where can you watch it? In the age of streaming, we often sit down to screen a favorite film… and then waste precious relaxation time looking for it on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime before finally coughing up some money to buy it on Apple TV. With so many competing streaming services and digital-download providers, it’s not always obvious where you can find specific shows and movies.

But knowing where to look doesn’t just save you time and frustration; it will also help you decide which services to subscribe to and which streaming devices to buy.

Luckily, we have a few tips to help you track down that elusive content. Follow these steps to work out where you can access digital versions of the movies and television shows you want to watch.

How to find where TV shows and movies are streaming online

The user interface for the GoWatchIt streaming search (now JustWatch), showing The Handmaid's Tale.
GoWatchIt has since become JustWatch, but it still lets you type in a show name and instantly see where you can stream it. David Nield

When you stream videos through your web browser, you can find them by visiting a different site altogether. Several online portals let you query multiple streaming services at once. Simply type in the name of the television show or movie you’re interested in watching, and you can instantly see where it’s available.

  • The comprehensive JustWatch searches through a variety of catalogs: streaming services like Netflix and Hulu; digital content sellers like Apple TV, Amazon, and Google Play; and even DVDs and Blu-rays. Enter your search term in the box at the top, hit enter, and click the matching result. You’ll see your options, how much they cost, the quality of the video (high definition or 4K), and a link directly to the film or show (if it’s available online). JustWatch also does a good job of showing related content, helping you figure out what you might want to watch next. If you were a fan of GoWatchIt, look no further: JustWatch acquired its competitor in 2019.
  • Even regular search engines can help. Specifically, when you look up any TV show or movie through Google, you should see viewing options listed right at the top of the results page. This option works on Google’s desktop and mobile versions. Speaking of which…

How to find where TV shows and movies are streaming on your phone

Google streaming search
Google now shows streaming options in its search results. David Nield

When you’re on your phone, you don’t need to visit a separate site to find out where to stream your planned viewing. A couple of the primary video apps will dig these options up for you.

  • The television app built into iOS aims to sync your viewing across multiple devices. But it also has a secondary application: It can tell you if the shows and movies you look up might be available on other platforms, such as Disney Plus and Amazon. Just tap Search to look up the content in question, then tap the link you want to open the relevant app.
  • Likewise, when you search for a particular video, the Google TV app for Android will display your viewing options, including, Hulu, HBO Max, and Peacock. Again, you can jump into the relevant app with a tap.
  • At the time of writing, the same functionality hasn’t appeared in Google Play Movies & TV for iOS. Instead, if you want an alternative to Apple TV, just run a Google search, as mentioned in the previous section. You can do this through your mobile web browser or with the Google app for iOS. This works on Android as well.

How to find where TV shows and movies are streaming on an Apple TV

The Apple TV search function
The Apple TV has a comprehensive search function. Apple

With an Apple TV, you can take advantage of its universal search feature. When you look something up, the device automatically searches through the content from multiple apps—Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, and more—to help you find your goal.

To use this feature, you have a couple options. You might head to the home screen’s Search app and type in your keywords. Or, wherever you might be in the Apple TV interface, you can hold down the remote’s Siri button and speak your search terms aloud.

As you would expect, the Apple TV defaults to showing you the options available in the Apple TV app. However, if other apps have the same content, you can find these alternatives by hitting the Open In button on the results page.

How to find where TV shows and movies are streaming on an Android TV

The Android TV search interface.
Android TV includes built-in search options. Google

If you own an Android TV or an Android TV box, you can search for content in multiple apps, as well as the default Google TV portal. Based on our testing, an Android TV device can dig up content from Apple TV Plus, YouTube, and Hulu, among other services.

From the home screen, just move up to the top of the screen and type the name of a show or movie into the search box. Once you’re there, you can also tap select and speak your keywords out loud. If your device has a remote with a microphone button, you can also hold down this key to run a voice search from anywhere in the interface.

The results appear in a pop-up pane on top of the interface. Then you can select one of the apps—Disney Plus, Google TV, or wherever the film or show is available—that has the content you want.

How to find where TV shows and movies are streaming on an Amazon Fire device

The Amazon Fire TV search interface.
With any Amazon Fire TV device, you’ll see a search option in the top left-hand corner. Insignia

According to Amazon, the universal search feature on its Fire TV devices lets you hunt through the catalogs of more than 75 different apps and providers. The list includes Netflix, Hulu, and HBO, as well as Amazon Prime Video. This means it can turn up results that include both streaming and for-purchase options.

To search for your favorite film or show, navigate to the Search icon (the magnifying glass) in the top left-hand corner. As you tap out your query, you should see results start to appear on screen, allowing you to pick the right one. If your Fire TV device supports voice search, you can also hold down the microphone button on the supplied remote and state your search terms.

How to find where TV shows and movies are streaming on a Roku device

The Roku search interface.
Roku devices let you search across multiple channels. Roku

If you’ve own a Roku TV stick or box, you can enjoy its own powerful search function. This feature lets you scour the available titles on many major platforms, including Netflix, Hulu, Vimeo, Amazon, and more.

Start by heading to the home screen of the Roku interface and selecting Search. Then begin to type out the name of the TV show or movie you’re seeking—after a few characters, the right match should show up. Select the entry to see your viewing options across the supported Roku channels. If you don’t have the relevant channel set up on your device yet, you’ll see a prompt to install it. With some Roku devices, you can search with your voice as well: Press the microphone or magnifying glass button on the remote and speak your query out loud. Finally, you can run these searches through the free Roku apps for Android and iOS.