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A little over a month ago, we received a query from a new website, asking if Amazing Stories would be interested in receiving content from them (for publication on the website).

Now we have to admit up-front that we are almost always dismissive of such queries for a number of reasons, which I will use this opportunity to elucidate, seeing as how doing so will serve my purpose of portraying such things in a negative light:

We get tens of such email requests every day
Most of them are written unprofessionally or are badly translated from a foreign language
Most of them claim to have content that will be “of interest to your core audience” (and they do not)
Most of them offer to pay, and sometimes a ridiculous amount
Most of them demand that they not be identified as advertisements
The vast majority are non-responsive when asked questions;  most of them never provide the requested writing samples
Those that do provide samples or links are INVARIABLY completely unrelated to anything of interest to our readers

Most of the time, I ignore them.  Sometimes, when I get pissed off about something that is inappropriate to address publicly or the way I really want to address it, I take my frustrations out on the correspondent, either identifying how poorly they, or their algorithms, are at identifying appropriate websites for their bilge (or how their company ought to fire them for doing such an obviously lousy job), or I wax interminably-eloquent while explaining that replacing every single damn pronoun with the proper noun of their product is NOT writing.

I never get a response.  Some other email address sends me virtually the same query a few days later.

But every once and a while….

JustWatch is a website that tracks all of the streaming services and offers some “Nielsen-like” reporting on the popularity of various shows, market share of the different streamers, etc.  We’ve published their weekly “Top Ten Movies” and “Top Ten TV Shows” a few times in news.

I was pretty enthusiastic.  Streaming is definitely the way that the media world has chosen to try and re-implement the “studio system” in the modern era (where the studio controlled and owned everything – production, actors under contract, studios, theaters, other promotional vehicles – ) – freeing us all from the evil cable companies as they make it three times as expensive as it used to be in order to watch the content we’re all interested in watching.

Personally, I drew the limit at three – Netflix, HBOMax, Amazon Prime and, for a while (and because I kinda had to) Apple+).  I have access to others via a cable provider, but they would each cost me a few bucks a month.

In fact, JustWatch does have a list of all streaming services currently extant and the number is enormous.  No doubt, some of them will eventually get swallowed up by the big boys, but in the meantime (39 listed on Netflix with at least 1 million subscribers).  Say a fee of 4.99 per month (which is low):  if you wanted to be able to see everything that might be offered by streaming services, you’ll need to shell out almost two hundred bucks per month.

But I’m getting off track (yes, Streaming is BAD; lack of an aggregator service is BAD; dividing people into tiny entertainment bubbles is BAD) because we’re talking about one of the bright lights of the streaming world here – JustWatch.com.

If you have ever asked yourself the question – where can I find X? – where X is any genre-related movie or show or presentation you might be interested in watching, JustWatch can help you.  So, for example, lets say I wake up in the morning with a hankering to watch the movie Solar Babies.  I’ll just amble on over to JustWatch and see what they have to say:

We’ll set aside for a moment WTF is wrong with me that I’d awaken with a yen for SolarBabies and concentrate on the results provided by Just Watch.  JustWatch will finnd every available instance of the title you are looking for and will categorize them based on their availability:  SolarBabies can be streamed, rented or purchased on a number of sites:  streamed on Prime, Tubi and Pluto (the latter two with commercials), available to rent at Amazon Prime and Vudu and available for purchase at the same two sites.

How about a less obscure flick.  What are the results for, say, a famous, successful, highly regarded, well-written and exciting science fiction film.  What are the results for Forbidden Planet?

Look at that!  The popularity of a show seems to be reflected by how many different services are offering it.  Who’d a thunk?

Regardless, you’ll note that you can filter the results for Best Price, Free Content and the quality of the presentation – SD, HD and 4K.

Now a brief aside here as I note that there is another filter shown on that screen the “Streaming In” filter.

As I was playing around with the site and deciding whether I could recommend it or not, I decided to see what that “Streaming In” dropdown offered me.  Clicking brought up a list of countries.  Ahhh.  You can narrow the search content by the country you would be viewing from.  (I’ll just bet that there are a lot more Bollywood movies available for streaming if you select “India” instead of “United States”).  Nice.

I have friends in Israel, making me curious to learn what services they had available.  Did Forbidden Planet shown over there have Hebrew subtitles?  Was it dubbed in Hebrew?  (The last time I saw a film in Israel, it had subtitles in Hebrew, Arabic and French….)

No Israel was listed.  There was nothing between “Ireland” and “Italy”.

Huh.

So I queried my contacts at JustWatch.  There was a delay in response, increasing my suspicions.  The non-response was followed by a non-answer.  I grew more suspicious.  I stated my intention to write up commentary on the service that could have two outcomes, recommended or not recommended.  I was told that an explanation was forthcoming from upper management.  I got really suspicious.  I finally received an answer that stated that they were rolling out JustWatch in a phased manner and that Israel (and some other countries) would be added later on this year.

I accept that response, while at the same time noting that I will be keeping an eye on developments.

Which leaves us with this:  I recommend this website and the services it provides as a valuable tool for the genre-afflicted.  I mean, how can I not when it helped reveal that the entire catalog of Fireball XL5 episodes are available to watch on TUBI (women may be astrobiologists and astronauts, but they’re still serving the coffee), not to mention helping me find where various other titles can be found…which will play into my future decisions as to which streaming service to give my money to.

You can subscribe for free (they’ll gather watching preferences in order to “tailor” the things they offer you) or you can use search without signing up.  You can also search by genre (I’m pretty sure that I alone have raised the importance of the phrase “science fiction”).

We’ll also be featuring their monthly  roundups and other releases in our News roundup on Sundays.

JustWatch – check it out.

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