Do you subscribe to multiple streaming services to watch your favorite series and movies? If so, you’re among the 86% of people who pay for more than one streaming service.
Having multiple streaming services such as Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hulu is a great way to enjoy a wider selection of your favorite shows. However, if you have too many, it can feel like navigating through an endless maze of programming to find your favorite show.
Some streaming sticks, such as Roku and Google Chromecast, offer menus to help viewers, but both limit what platforms they show. This can make your TV viewing experience disjointed and inconvenient. However, there are now apps that consolidate everything into one universal menu to keep everything organized and easy to find.
I decided to try two popular solutions, Plex and ReelGood, to make streaming a less chaotic and more enjoyable experience. Both services are free and can be accessed via their respective websites, or downloaded onto your phone or smart TV via the app store, and both let you create a universal watchlist across streaming services.
What Is Plex?
Plex is an app/service users can access via their computer, smartphone or SmartTV to give them easier access to multiple steaming services in one location. It combines free TV programming with the ability to search and access your subscription services.
Most of Plex’s best features are free, which makes the service an attractive option for those who don’t want to add another bill to their monthly budget.
What Does Plex’s Free Service Include?
When you sign up for Plex online, you immediately get access to a collection of free TV shows and a movie collection. These are ad-supported channels typically dedicated to a specific TV show or genre (drama, comedy, sci-fi).
You’ll find shows like “The Walking Dead,” “Forensic Files,” “Doctor Who,” “The Price is Right” and many more.
To see what is airing on live TV, you can go to the Live TV guide and choose to see all the Plex channels, or filter by the type of programming you want to watch.
You can pause, save and resume these programs while watching, even switching between smart devices. This means you won’t miss a second of your show or movie just because you have to step away for a little while.
Beyond the free TV and movies you can watch on Plex, you get free access to creating your own universal watchlist based on your streaming services and interests.
How to Use the Plex Universal Watchlist and Discover Features
When you set up your Plex account, the app will ask you what streaming subscriptions you have. It has a list that includes almost any service you can imagine. Click each one you have, whether it’s a paid or free service.
Once you have entered your information, you can use Plex to help you find your favorite movies and where you can stream them, all on one screen.
Say you want to watch “West Side Story” for your movie night. Which streaming platform is it on? Go to the Plex Discover option on the left side of your main screen and enter the movie title in the search bar. Your search results will pop up, and you can choose the movie you want. If you don’t want to watch the movie right away, drop it in your Watchlist where it will wait until you’re ready. You can build an entire collection of your favorite movies or series that can be accessed on one convenient list.
I didn’t try this, but you can also choose the Plex Pass upgrade, which allows users to download media (movies, shows, music), DVR capability and more. This upgrade costs $4.99 per month, $39.99 annually, or $119.99 for lifetime access.
After signing up for the basic Plex account, I see its potential and look forward to digging more into its features. It will take some time to set it up according to your preferences, so, keep that in mind when downloading Plex. You might need a little patience to get your menu and watchlist just right.
The Bottom Line:
- Pros: Plex offers many features in its free service tier. It has a collection of free TV channels in addition to curating streaming programming that can bring new viewing options without additional cost. I also like its TV Guide and how users can create a personalized Watchlist.
- Cons: Plex’s navigation feels a little clunky. Setup takes a while, and getting around the menus takes some time. That was a deterrent for me to get into using it after a few minutes.
What Is ReelGood?
After finding out about Plex, I decided to dig more into other universal watchlist options for streaming. My research showed me that ReelGood was a highly-rated experience to try.
I set up my account the same way I did for Plex, and did the same searches to find programming so I could test them equally.
At first glance, ReelGood looks pretty similar to Plex. It has the ability to curate program listings from a wide range of streaming platforms to choose to make your own list, and their interface designs use photo galleries for program listings.
However, there are a few differences between ReelGood and Plex worth noting.
ReelGood is entirely free. There are no price tiers. What you see is what you get, and there are no paywalls for desired features.
Easy Setup and Customizing
While the display looks like most streaming menus, finding programming on your services is much easier, thanks to ReelGood’s software. Once you enter your streaming services into ReelGood (which is easier to do than with Plex), ReelGood has a dropdown menu to customize your screen. You can choose to have ReelGood display either TV shows, movies or both available on your desired services. Or, you can select from all streaming services to see everything available.
If a show or movie isn’t showing on your streaming service, a green tab will be on top of the listing letting you know you need to subscribe. If you would rather wait to watch it until it comes to one of your streaming services, click “Track it,” and ReelGood will notify you when it’s available to watch.
I also appreciated how ReelGood keeps track of what’s new, what’s coming, and what’s happening on all the streaming platforms it tracks. If you’ve been anxiously awaiting the latest episode or season of a favorite TV show or a specific movie, you’ll have an updated list by month and week. The same is true for shows leaving streaming platforms, so you can make sure to watch something before it disappears.
You can customize your list with pulldown menus to see only your streaming services or all services.
The Bottom Line:
- Pros: ReelGood is entirely free. Its navigation and customization are easy to use, making finding your favorite or new programming a snap. You also get up-to-date information on new and departing programming on streaming platforms.
- Cons: There are no additional free live TV stations or DVR capabilities with ReelGood. It is strictly a guide for what’s available to stream online.
No matter which one you prefer, either Plex or ReelGood can help you navigate the vast ocean of options out there for programming. Happy streaming!
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