During the fall of 2014, Hollywood launched WhereToWatch, its very own search engine for movies and TV-shows.
The site enabled people to check if and where the latest entertainment was available, hoping to steer U.S. visitors away from pirate sites.
“The initiative marks a further attempt by the MPAA to combat rampant online piracy by reminding consumers of legal means to watch movies and TV shows,” the LA Times wrote, for example.
Over the past several years, the site hasn’t appeared in the news much, but it did help thousands of people find legal sources for the latest entertainment. However, those who try to access it today will notice that WhereToWatch has been abandoned, quietly.
The MPAA pulled the plug on the service a few months ago. And where the mainstream media covered its launch in detail, the shutdown received zero mentions. So why did the site fold?
According to MPAA Vice President of Corporate Communications, Chris Ortman, it was no longer needed as there are many similar search engines out there.
“Given the many search options commercially available today, which can be found on the MPAA website, WheretoWatch.com was discontinued at the conclusion of 2017,” Ortman informs TF.
“There are more than 140 lawful online platforms in the United States for accessing film and television content, and more than 460 around the world,” he adds.
The MPAA lists several of these alternative search engines on its new website. The old WhereToWatch domain now forwards to the MPAA’s online magazine ‘The Credits,’ which features behind-the-scenes stories and industry profiles.
While the MPAA is right that there are alternative search engines, many of these were already available when WhereToWatch launched. In fact, the site used the services of the competing service GoWatchIt for its search results.
Perhaps the lack of interest from the U.S. public played a role as well. The site never really took off and according to traffic estimates from SimilarWeb and Alexa, most of the visitors came from Iran, where the site was unusable due to a geo-block.
After searching long and hard we were able to track down a former WhereToWatch user on Reddit. This person just started to get into the service and was disappointed to see it go.
“So, does anyone know of better places or simply other places where this information lives in an easily accessible place?” he or she asked.
One person responded by recommending Icefilms.info, a pirate site. This is a response the MPAA would cringe at, but luckily, most people mentioned justwatch.com as the best alternative.