As we all know, the MPAA has a host of problems. It’s antique, it’s funded by the six major studios in their own interest, it’s not nearly as useful as it should be. However, we can hopefully all give credit where credit is due in the case of their new streaming search tool. Granted, we shouldn’t be popping champagne for Where To Watch just yet – it’s a clean program that apes what Can I Stream It and other sites are doing, and it’s an olive branch to a large, growing audience who wants to see movies online legally, but it’s also only a tepid step in the right direction.
It works exactly how you’d expect something called “Where to Watch” to work – you search for a movie, and it tells you where you can watch it online (either through sub services or through paid rental/purchase). I tested it out with ten movies, and it worked perfectly (yes, The Usual Suspects is on Netflix streaming!), but The Verge apparently got one false positive. A small problem in the scheme of things, particularly with something that’s in Beta. It’s also toddler-level easy to use with very few frills.
This is both a tool that present fans need and a tool for the future of streaming. It’s also an astronomically subtle middle finger to the crew of pirates who claim they’d pay for stuff if only it were available. “Here’s where you can find those things you claim you want to pay for,” it seems to say.
This both acknowledges a problem with streaming and misunderstands a key component to why people pirate media. That misunderstanding – that things aren’t available fast enough – is something the MPAA has no control over, but for an entity that’s lobbied red-faced against piracy, Where To Watch is a weirdly tame tool for those genuinely searching for specific movies online.
For now, it’s a decent companion to Can I Stream It and a platform with a lot of promise.