Just Watch Sports Search Has Serious Flaws
Just Watch is jumping in a new direction. No, it’s not changing its service that finds where to watch movies and TV shows across multiple apps. It is adding a way to track down live sports events across those same services. When I talk to executives from streaming services and device makers I tell them that for all the brilliant engineering and processors and, even interfaces that their products offer, regular people don’t care much about that as much as they want to know one thing. Can I watch the game on it?
If you have ever gone down the rabbit hole that is asking an innocent question like “is the Steelers game on streaming” you know that a yes or no answer is not going to be the response. It will be yes if…… But Just Watch’s new service tries to address it head-on. Unfortunately, it does not appear ready for prime time.
Does it show you all of the options?
No. first of all Right now, it covers football (NFL & NCAA), soccer (MLS, League MX & all major European leagues), tennis, and Formula 1. Over the next few weeks, we will add more sports such as basketball, baseball, and eSports.
Outside of things like not even offering to search MLB games there are some huge limitations as to how it works in its current form. It seems to have a blind spot when it comes to college football. For instance during week 2, Saturday, September 10, Notre Dame will host Marshall. For some reason, that game does not show up on the radar, even when specifically searching for Football on Peacock on Saturday, September 10. When searching for College Football on Saturday, September 10 via Paramount+ Colorado vs Air Force is absent even though the game is available to users with Paramount+’s 9.99 service that provides streaming access to CBS. But this blind spot is not about the apps. Nothing shows up listed with ESPN or ESPN+ either for all of September 10. And I can assure you, there will be college football on TV this weekend barring a horrible national emergency or tragedy. This is unfortunate and correctable. But it absolutely needs to be fixed.
There are also some major problems displaying NFL football. NFL Football is available on multiple streaming services such as The ESPN app, Amazon Prime, NFL+, Paramount+ and Peacock. Users can not simply find games available on specific days. Instead, Just Watch displays matchups over multiple weeks. And even worse users can not filter the games via the searchable services. So let’s say someone has Peacock. They can not see which games are available via the Sunday Night Football stream. They can also not specifically search Paramount+ for the weekly games available via CBS Sports. The app will show users if a game is available on NFL+ but in order to see if a game is available on another service, one has to click on a little yellow arrow. And half the time instead of displaying the streaming options it shunters users to a third-party website.
The system also does not have a dedicated category to search NCAA Football vs NFL Football. One has to look for dates. Any real sports fan knows Saturday is college football day, but for a search site to not break things down by league or organization is very confusing.
Does not list cable replacements or TV Everywhere Apps in the results
An undeniable truth is that a lot of sports is still locked in with cable and satellite providers. The streaming answer to that is services like Sling TV, Hulu With Live TV, fubo TV, and YouTube TV. Sure these services are not one-stop solutions. They are full multichannel packages with large monthly fees. But if Just Watch is about discoverability leaving out the fact that users can sign up for those streaming services and watch sports is also limiting. As well TV Everywhere apps are absent in the results. The strange thing is that when using Just Watch for other searches outside of sports this is not the case. If something is available via say the Spectrum app, or fubo TV it will show right up with the logo displayed to let people know where they can find it.
It has potential
I searched for other sports with a lot more success. Tennis, Formula 1 racing and others gave me a much more intuitive response. Nut at this point it is going to be a lot easier to find where a team is playing via a search of a sports website like ESPN or CBS Sports where users can look up schools, conferences, daily schedules and more and see listings of when, where and which network a contest will take place or is taking place for that matter.
Sports is the most popular thing on live TV and finding a way to make it easier for users to enjoy them is big business. Just Watch needs to put more thought and effort into how it does so or stick to the rivers and the lakes that its used to.