How to Find the Movie You Want to Stream

If you’ve ever had a hankering to watch a specific movie or TV show and you’ve individually searched Netflix, then Hulu, Vudu, Amazon, iTunes, and other streaming sites, you know the benefit of a good global search feature. New titles first become available to rent on M-Go, Vudu, or iTunes, Past seasons of TV shows, or obscure older movie titles are even harder to find. Once you find a title, its licensing window can run out and it can pop up on another service like musical chairs. Global search looks across all apps on the device and displays which apps have your desired movie title, actor, or other search term. More devices are offering the global search feature. If your streaming player doesn’t allow you to search all apps, you can still find where to stream a specific movie or TV show using the Can I Stream It website.

Amazon has emphasized the voice search feature on its recently released Fire TV. Voice search is activated when a user says the name of a movie, TV show, or actor into a microphone in the Fire TV’s remote control. The Fire TV then displays cover art of the results from Amazon Instant Video and other apps. So far, the Fire TV has been spot-on with displaying results from the Amazon streaming service, but only occasionally finds the title in other apps. Still, it is a good place to start if you want to search for a title and I expect that results from multiple apps will become available in future updates of the Fire TV.

While no one knows the future of Google TV, I believe it has one of the best global search features. When the Google TV is connected and set up with your TV provider’s service, the Google TV will search both online streaming services and the provider’s schedule. Last year voice search was added to some of the Google TV set top boxes. The Sony NSZ-GS8 Google TV remote control includes a microphone. Other Google TV models will respond to voice search in the Google TV remote app on a smartphone. The best part of the Google TV search is that you can say a movie genre or a broad description of the film, and it will display results of movies that fall into that category. “Movies about sinking ships” will bring results that include Titanic as well as Poseidon Adventure.

Bing Search on both the Xbox 360 and Xbox One displays where you can stream a movie or music title, as well as website pages that mention the movie. After saying “Bing (the movie title or search term)” cover art is displayed of matching titles. Say the movie title and then tell the Xbox from which service you want to stream. Like other devices with search, the Xbox will take you directly to the movie in the chosen app.

There’s no talking to Roku boxes, but the home screen search feature does include most of the popular streaming channels. Results include the price of rentals, and which subscription services have the searched title available for streaming.

The search feature for many media players and smart TVs are often less affective than the examples I’ve mentioned. In my experience, some Smart TVs with global searches have not been successful in searching many streaming apps. Netgear media players as well as a few other manufacturers’ models devices have a “global” search that show titles in your home network indexed media libraries, but doesn't include results from within online streaming apps.

If you don’t have luck with the global search feature on your device, you can find where to stream a movie or TV show using Can I Stream It. (Note the ".it" in the URL: www.canIstream.it.) If you want to know where to watch La Dolce Vita or the 1964 season of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. the site lists where you can rent, buy, or stream movies and TV shows. If you want to wait until a movie is available on Netflix or another subscriptions streaming site, you can sign up for a free account and be notified when it becomes available. The site also searches Amazon, Hulu Plus, Crackle, You Tube, Google Play, Vudu, and premium cable channels—HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, Starz, Encore, and Xfinity Free.

Whether you use the search feature on a device, or Can I Stream It, when you are in the mood for a specific title, chances are good that you’ll be able to find it.

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