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Streaming services are changing the way we consume television shows. Long gone are the days when new programs would be released in the fall, run for 22 weeks, and wrap in the spring with some cliffhanger that’d leave us talking for 12 weeks during the summer.
Streaming services abide by their own schedules, releasing episodes whenever and however they want. They might drop a full season on one day, or they may drip the episodes week by week.
Now, full disclosure: I don’t watch a lot of TV today. But I get asked about it a lot. What are the best streaming services? What are the best streaming devices? And, recently, someone asked, “What are the best apps for managing TV programming?”
Yes, there are apps that help you manage your TV-show watching. They take a while to set up, especially if you watch a lot of TV — and I know a lot of people who watch a lot of TV. They helped me assemble this list of five apps to help you manage your binge-watching.
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Before I get into the TV-tracker apps, let me remind you about always protecting your devices when you connect to the internet. Streaming devices are vulnerable to attacks, so protect yourself by securing your home Wi-Fi, router and connected devices.
Hobi app tracks favorite shows
This first app, Hobi, describes itself as a “lightweight TV tracker” because it’s easy to set up and manage. Get notifications when new episodes air, get recommendations based on what you like and explore information about specific episodes.
Hobi has free and ad-free paid versions. The paid version allows you to connect the app across your devices, as well as advanced statistics.
Now, here’s where my eyebrows go up. Advanced statistics? As you use the app and mark episodes as viewed, the app tracks how much time you spend watching TV. It will tell you your favorite genres and which shows you’ve spent the most time watching.
TV Time app tracks shows, adds social feature
TV Time seems to be the most popular app for managing television watching in both the Apple and Google Play stores. The app differentiates itself from Hobi and other apps by promoting its online social community for TV lovers. You can comment on shows and episodes and read what others say, and the app warns you if there are spoilers in the comments.
TV Time takes the interactivity up a notch from Hobi by allowing you to not only rate episodes, but also tell others how the episode made you feel – happy, sad, confused, scared, angry, shocked, excited or bored. They also ask you which device you used to watch the show.
Again – I have to wonder, what do they do with that data about you?
TV Time also offers stats, so you can see how much time you have spent in your life watching the shows that you manage using the app. There’s a free version and an ad-free version.
TV Listings Plus collects less data
If you’re averse to apps that collect data about your TV watching habits, this one might be for you. It’s called TV Listings Plus. Download it to your phone, enter your ZIP code and choose your television programming provider (cable, antenna, satellite, etc.).
The app gives you listings by time and channel. There are options to create watch lists and set notifications, but those are optional. You can use it simply as a guide to find out what’s on and on what channel.
The biggest downside for this app is that it does not include programming from streaming channels like Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hulu.
Stream shows, manage favorites with TV Guide app
TV Guide has kept up with the times by going digital. It’s the most robust of all the apps I’m sharing with you today. It has the grid-like listings of TV Listings Plus, the ability to track favorites like Hobi and TV Time, a social feature to connect with friends, plus some exclusive features.
You can watch previews of episodes and you and sort of stream through the app. Select your favorite show, choose an episode and scroll down to Watch Now. Click that and it will tell you where you can watch it. Click the link, and it opens in Amazon Prime, Fandango or some other streaming service.
IMDb manages your TV favorites
Did you know that IMDb, the Internet Movie Database, has an app? A lot of us have been using the website for years to read about our favorite movies, actors, directors and TV shows. It’s my go-to website when I want more information about a movie, actor or show.
Well, it also has an app, and the developers keep making it better and better. They’ve added features that let you track your favorite shows and get alerts when episodes air. It offers recommendations based on your watching habits, and like TV Guide, you can watch trailers for TV shows (and movies, of course).
Use TV trackers with caution
The bottom line here is if you’re OK with these apps collecting data on your television watching, there are a lot of apps that will help you keep track of your shows and make sure you don’t miss an episode.
The more shows you watch, the longer it takes to set up. Once you’ve got it set, your favorites are easy to manage going forward.
What do you use to manage your TV watching? What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call my national radio show and click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.