As a cord cutter, one of the ongoing challenges is figuring out which shows and movies are available for streaming on services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Hulu and others, and which are only available as paid downloads. A company called Fan TV is today introducing a new mobile application that will go a long way to help address this problem, by allowing you to search and save shows and movies you want to watch later – as well as get alerted to when they arrive on your preferred services.
The alerting feature is of particular interest to me personally, I have to admit. Today’s streaming services see content come and go so regularly, it has become nearly impossible to keep track of what’s available and where. In fact, you may be in the middle of binge-watching a show, only to wake up and find that the show has disappeared from the service you’re using to do so. Meanwhile, it can be difficult to find the full season of a TV show that’s currently airing, if you decide to tune in when the season is halfway through or more, as most TV providers and Hulu only keep a handful of the most recent episodes on hand.
The problem with not knowing when and where to find shows, and uncertainty about how long they’ll stick around for, are likely among some of the top reasons why many are still hesitant to cut the cord these days.
To date, I’ve largely relied on the mobile app Yidio to stay on top of what’s available and where to find things, but Fan TV is now offering a viable competitor.
To be clear, the company previously offered an iOS application before today, but the version being released this morning is an all new, completely redesigned app from the one it released in the past. That earlier app was basically a shrunken down version of Fan TV’s iPad app, and was optimized for video playback.
The company tells us that they realized the experience their users desired for the iPhone was not playback, but rather content discovery. Says Fan TV, iPad users were three times more likely to watch a show on their tablets, while the iPhone users were doing more searches and using the app to better manage their entertainment choices.
A common scenario, explains Fan TV – and one I can relate to quite a bit – involves having a discussion with a friend about TV shows or movies you’ve each been watching, and learning of something new you’d like to later check out. With the new Fan TV app, you can now quickly find that show or movie and save it to a “Universal Watchlist” – meaning one that tracks content across services, streaming and otherwise. This is far easier than what you might be doing today to find that show or movie – launching each service you have access to, then doing a search to see if the content is available.
Later, when you’re ready to watch that recommended show or movie, you can simply launch the Fan TV app and it will tell you where you can stream or buy it on third-party services. You can also optionally watch the video right there on your phone, if you choose.
What makes Fan TV so practical is that it doesn’t just focus on the “big” over-the-top services like Netflix, Amazon or Hulu, and the top download providers like Amazon and iTunes, but actually tracks the long-tail of video providers. Today, the company tracks 44 services, and it continues to add new ones as they come out, including things like Sling TV and HBO NOW. Combined, these services include a database that offers 2.6 million entertainment assets, including movies, shows and talent.
Fan TV’s app, which was acquired by Rovi last year along with its hardware business, is fairly popular with 2.6 million users, despite being iOS-only. That continues with today’s new release – an Android version is not planned at this time, but the company is launching a mobile web version that will work from other smartphone devices, including Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone.
In the meantime, the updated Fan TV is a free download here on iTunes.