This new app solves the biggest streaming problem


It can be very boring to find what to watch online. Decision paralysis isn’t just a problem that keeps me from choosing a new pair of headphones, because I (and countless others) just sat there staring at the seemingly limitless set of options and I feel confused.

Which of the many streaming apps should I start in? Sure, I’ve built a giant list of “must watch” shows that I follow in JustWatch and Plex’s new watchlist, but not everyone wants to spend that time. And that’s where IMDb comes in to help.

Now that IMDb TV is Amazon Freevee, the IMDb brand has a new streaming app that released last week: What To Watch. Available for Fire TV and Fire TV devices, What to Watch’s goal is simple (as the name suggests), but its job is difficult: to help people find things to watch. I was more than a little wary of the idea. IMDb What to Watch tries to use game-like menus to help you find things you’ll want to watch.

And, to my surprise, he’s actually pretty damn good at his job. Which is, you know, good. He only has a workit is better to know how to do it.

How it works What to watch

The Quick Draw game in the IMDb app what to watch

(Image credit: future)

Before jumping into What to Watch (find it on Fire TV by searching “IMDb What to Watch app”), the app will prompt you to link your IMDb account. If you’re like me and don’t have an IMDb account, this prompt may confuse you.

The app says it’s intended to help you sync your ratings for movies and shows and to help you rate and track what you watch. After creating an IMDb account (using Apple’s “hide my email” feature), the app dropped me into a menu where three “games” were available.

The Quick Draw game in the IMDb What to Watch app

(Image credit: IMDb)

The first is the easiest: Quick Draw, which I skipped at first because it seemed too obvious. The app “deals” you with three “cards”, suggesting three seemingly randomly presented films. This is the least personalized section, so my mileage varied depending on my “hand”.

The first set I got was Legally Blonde (a classic, and I won’t hear otherwise), Black Widow (eh) and The Silence of the Lambs (another classic). If you’re not ready to click Play, you can hold a card (click the menu button to “pin” it to the table) and have the others refresh when you select Deal Cards .

A choice in-game This or That in the IMDb app what to watch

(Image credit: future)

Then my favorite mode is This or That. You get a series of questions with possible answers, starting with “a TV show” and “a movie”, and each selection helps create a search of six suggestions.

If neither of the two possible options work for you – for example, I didn’t want to select “about showbiz” shows or “supernatural” shows – you can select “exchange options” to get other search terms .

The results of the This or That game in the IMDb app what to watch

(Image credit: future)

This is where I had the most fun, as I went for a psychological drama TV show with any rating, and which is very popular with fans.

What to Watch then gave me six suggestions, and I have some confidence in the picks I didn’t watch — Big Little Lies and Inside No. 9 — because the other recommendations worked for me. I loved Six Feet Under and Severance, heard good things about (early seasons of) Dexter, and always wanted to go back to Mr. Robot.

The Watch Challenge game in the IMDb app what to watch

(Image credit: future)

Finally, there’s Watch Challenge, which offers lists of films to “complete”. For example, the IMDb Top 20 Movies is number one and starts with Shawshank Redemption, The Godfather, and The Dark Knight. You mark a movie as “seen” by rating it, and you’ll get virtual badges (icons) to show your progress. Not all of these lists are as interesting because “A Galaxy Far, Far Away” is just a list of all the Star Wars movies and shows – and they’re not presented in any particular order (unlike our list of Star Wars movies). Star Wars in Command).

What to watch has an annoying catch

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max plugged horizontally into TV

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

All of this is, boringly, irrelevant to some. What to Watch is only available on Amazon Fire TV Sticks, Fire TVs, and the Fire TV Cube at this time. And as annoyed as I was (and that limitation was partly responsible for why I wasn’t really looking forward to testing it), it’s not completely surprising. IMDb is a subsidiary of Amazon, so it makes sense that they would start with their own platform first.

It makes even more sense when you realize What to Watch has its hooks — the links that open content — in the Amazon ecosystem. So, instead of opening the associated app, it finds that show’s page in Amazon search.

That’s why I’m not holding my breath for a standalone What to Watch app on other devices. Instead, I guess it would be good to see What to Watch end up in Prime Video apps on Roku devices, Apple TV 4K, and Chromecast with Google TV in the near future.

Outlook: What to watch should grow

The menu screen in the IMDb What to Watch app

(Image credit: future)

Two more games are listed as upcoming. Build-a-Cast is a game to play with up to 7 other users, and you choose whoever you would like to watch on your phone or tablet. Apparently Build-a-Cast will play “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” with these names. Then there’s Time Machine, which will help you “visit any moment in history or relive a night at the movies in your favorite decade.” Both sound great, and the first seems much louder than the second (at least to me).

Amazon and IMDb don’t seem to have any plans to port What to Watch to other devices, but I can see it being a powerful tool for finding what you want to watch. It will also help keep people in the Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Channels ecosystems.

I say this because I could really use something like What to Watch. I just prefer to use some of our other picks in our list of best streaming devices.

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