As distribution of movies and TV shows has increasingly dispersed across subscription video on demand and transactional platforms, a challenge has emerged for consumers: Not only must they find the programming they’re looking for, but they also must find it on the most favorable, cost-effective platform.
For example, say a Netflix subscriber who never watched AMC’s "The Walking Dead" suddenly wants to catch up on all seven seasons. It would be a household economic disaster on par with the zombie apocalypse if this user were to pay $2.99 per HD episode on Amazon, Vudu or Google Play to catch up on 115 installments. Especially if the user already has the first six seasons of the show locked up on Netflix. And if they have pay TV, chances are they can see on-demand episodes of the latest season via AMC.
Enter JustWatch.com, a Berlin-based startup that bills itself as “the streaming search engine.” Click on the thumbnail of "The Walking Dead," and the site lists where to find each specific season of the show across linear, SVOD and transactional channels.
For movies, it also includes a useful pricing feature, allowing users to see where they can get the best deal. For example, an HD purchase of the latest M. Night Shyamalan thriller, Split, costs $14.99 across iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Fandango, Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox transactional services, but savvy purchasers can get it on Google Play for $9.99. JustWatch provides this information without the user having to visit each platform.
According to company spokesman David Croyé, the JustWatch platform is now serving 31 countries, with the biggest chunk of its 10 million monthly users coming from the U.S. platform.
The company is headquartered with a staff of 40 in Berlin, but also has offices in Culver City, Calif. Backing includes a $500,000 investment from the founders, and around $2 million in loans.
“We run data-driven video advertising campaigns for our clients around the world, to promote their movies starting in cinemas,” Croyé said, describing the JustWatch revenue model. Clients, he said, include Paramount Pictures and Fox.
For their part, pay TV providers like Comcast are battling back with elegant solutions of their own. Part of the appeal of Comcast’s X1 video platform, for example, is its ability to curate and surface personalized selections of content on the user interface, also directing the user to every choice of platform.
But X1, of course, will set a user back more than $100 a month. JustWatch is free to the consumer.