It’s one of the great annoyances of the streaming media age: figuring out which shows and movies are on which services. Searching Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and other sites individually takes up way too much time, especially when you just want to relax and watch something.
If you’ve got a Roku, however, you can search all these and other sites at once. The Roku 3, Roku 4, and Roku Ultra all offer voice search thanks to a microphone on the remote, and users of other Roku devices can use an Android or iOS device thanks to a handy app. Both methods let you search for any show or movie, then quickly discover which streaming services offer what you’re looking for.
Voice Search With Your Roku Remote
If you own a Roku 3, Roku 4, or Roku Ultra, there is a magnifying glass icon on your remote, below the down arrow. Hold this button down, then put the remote to your mouth like a microphone, and say what it is you want to watch. Your Roku will start a search, like this:
If you don’t have a microphone on your remote, there’s a “Search” option in your Roku’s main menu, but it requires typing using a clumsy on-screen keyboard. It’s honestly a lot easier to use your phone, so skip to the section below to learn how to do that.
Scroll through the results to find the show or movie you want to watch. If you’re looking for a show, you can browse individual seasons and see which services offer them.
I’ve searched for Doctor Who. Amazon Prime users can stream the show for free, but if you don’t subscribe to Amazon Prime or Amazon Video, it’s also available for sale on Vudu. Tapping the Amazon Prime result will launch the video immediately, assuming you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber with the app installed on your Roku.
Apparently Doctor Who is not on Netflix anymore, which is disappointing. How do I know that? Because if the show were on Netflix, Roku would tell us. Here’s what that looks like:
In this case, we have no end of streaming options. Parks and Recreation is seemingly on every streaming service under the sun. Scrolling through the list I see that this show is available to stream on Netflix, Seeso, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, and episodes are for sale individually on a few other services. Spoiled for choice!
I think you get the idea: press a button, say what you want to watch, then find it. It’s simple, and lets you comparison shop if a given show or movie is not offered for free or subscription streaming.
Search for Movies or Shows on Your Phone
If your Roku device doesn’t offer voice search on the remote, don’t worry: you can still search using your phone. First you’ll need to install the Roku mobile app, if you haven’t already. Launch the app and you’ll see a search icon at the top-right of the main screen.
Click that icon and you can start searching. You can type with your phone, or click the microphone icon at top-right to search with your voice.
Once you’re done you’ll see results, laid out just the same as you did on your Roku before.
Browse which services offer a given movie or TV show, then launch them directly on your Roku, all from your phone. You’ll find this much faster than Googling which services offer which shows, an exercise that rarely pays off in any case. Enjoy!