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Google adds a universal watchlist for movies and TV to Google Search – TechCrunch

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Google is adding a new feature to Search that will help you keep track of all the TV shows and movies you want to watch during these long weeks at home. The company had already been offering personalized TV and movie recommendations in Search, as of an update released last fall. Building out a watchlist with your top picks is the obvious next step.

To get started, mobile users can first search “what to watch” to get Google’s suggestions. They are organized at the top of the search results, and can be filtered by type (show or movie), by whether the content is free, by category (comedy, action, documentary, sitcom, kid-friendly, etc.) and by provider. Google also offers a rating experience where you train its algorithms on what sort of content you like and dislike.

For any movie or show you want to then add to your list, you just tap “Watchlist” in the preview window. You can also tap “Watched” if it’s something you’ve already seen.

The new Watchlist is available as a second tab at the top of this What to watch section, and can be accessed any time you’re searching for something to buy, rent or stream. You can also search for “my watchlist” on Google or tap on “Collections” from within the Google app to access your list more quickly.

At launch, Google had said the TV and movies feature was designed to further the company’s larger goal of helping connect people with the information they need — it was not offering the data to advertisers. But by placing a regularly used feature like this within Google, users will spend more time on Google’s platform, which helps Google’s business.

While Google’s version of the watchlist concept is handy for more casual users, a number of dedicated mobile apps offer an expanded experience and, at times, more accurate and more granular recommendations. For example, TV Time not just makes recommendations, but also lets you check off which episodes you’ve watched from a series and participate in a mobile forum of sorts with other fans. Reelgood, Watchworthy, Taste, Bingeworthy, Likewise, itcher, Hai and many other apps also offer show and movie suggestions to varying degrees of success.

Reelgood even recently launched a feature called Reelgood Remote, which will instantly play the content you choose on your Roku device.

Google’s new Watchlist feature was one of several additions rolling out today focused on entertainment.

On Android TV devices, it also added three new home screen rows from YouTube, including COVID-19 News, Stay Home #WithMe and free movies from YouTube. Android TV also gained more collections from Google Play, while streaming apps are now organized under a row titled “Stream the shows and movies you love.”

Plus, on Google Play, the company has recently introduced a collection of special deals, including offers on apps for movies, TV and comics, among other things. There are offers for game streaming service Google Stadia and subscription service Google Play Pass, as well.

The Google Watchlist feature is live now on mobile devices.

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‘The Mandalorian’ Season 3 will premiere on March 1 • TechCrunch

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Disney announced today The Mandalorian’s long-awaited third season will debut on March 1st on Disney+. The company had previously said that the third season would debut in February, so fans will have to wait a little longer than expected to see the upcoming season.

The third season will take place following the events of “The Book of Boba Fett,” in which Din Djarin reunited with Grogu. A teaser for the upcoming season shows Mando fighting armed warriors on Mandalore.

The second season “The Mandalorian” premiered back in October 2020, so fans have had to wait quite some time to see their favorites together again. Carl Weathers, Giancarlo Esposito and Katee Sackhoff will all be returning in the third season of the show.

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YouTube launches its first-ever official trends podcast, ‘Like & Describe,’ with content creator MatPat • TechCrunch

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YouTube launched its first-ever official trends podcast today, the company announced. Hosted by popular content creator MatPat and produced by YouTube’s Culture & Trends team, the “Like & Describe” podcast will tackle lesser-known stories behind the biggest YouTube trends.

Episodes will release monthly on YouTube’s main channel for viewers to watch as well as all on major podcast platforms for listeners, including Spotify, Apple, Amazon and Google. Episode one debuted on December 1 with a second episode set to premiere on January 1.

The announcement comes a few months after YouTube introduced a dedicated podcast homepage. It’s likely the company launched “Like & Describe” to further cash in on the ever-growing podcast industry. Plus, MatPat could draw in millions of listeners since the creator has over 34 million subscribers in total across his four channels–The Game Theorists, The Film Theorists, The Food Theorists and his gaming channel, GTLive.

In the first episode, titled “The Rise of the VTubers,” MatPat explores Virtual YouTubers (aka VTubers), animated characters voiced by humans that garner a collective total of 1.5 billion views every month, according to YouTube.

MatPat meets with VTubers like Gawr Gura, a 9,000-year-old half shark/half girl, and Mori Calliope, a Grim reaper that raps in motion-capture music videos, among others. He also speaks with Earnest Pettie, Trends & Insights Lead of YouTube’s Culture & Trends team, content creator Dave Cherry and other experts.

Unlike most video podcasts where hosts sit in front of a camera and speak into a mic, “Like & Describe” has viewers follow along with graphics as MatPat narrates—similar to his video style for his YouTube channels.

The second episode will have MatPat meet with more special guests from the Culture & Trends team as they provide commentary on the biggest videos and creators of 2022.

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Netflix is letting more subscribers preview its films and TV shows, report says • TechCrunch

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Content is king for streaming services, and Netflix may be going the extra mile to ensure its content is up to par with subscribers. According to the Wall Street Journal, Netflix’s prerelease screening program will soon enlist tens of thousands of subscribers to preview new movies and shows and provide their feedback.

Netflix declined to comment to TechCrunch on the Wall Street Journal’s report.

Similar to how major Hollywood studios have test screenings for new films, the “Netflix Preview Club” has over 2,000 previewers that review Netflix titles before they release to the streaming platform, the Wall Street Journal wrote. The program will reportedly increase by 400% in early 2023, should the report prove accurate.

The program has existed since May 2021, Variety previously reported. Netflix confirmed to Variety that it runs subscriber-feedback panels in the U.S. only.

According to Reddit users who claim to be in the program, the Netflix Preview Club is invite-only. Subscribers are required to sign an NDA before watching the film and then answer a series of survey questions one person wrote. “You get a special Netflix account, and they email when they have a movie in there for you to watch. Usually, you have to watch and review within a week,” the Reddit user added.

Amazon and Hulu have similar programs, the “Amazon Preview” program and the “Hulu Brain Trust,” where subscribers offer feedback on content.

WSJ points out that “Don’t Look Up” was apparently too serious for the Netflix Preview Club, and creators took this feedback and added more humor before it was released. Although “Don’t Look Up” was poorly reviewed by critics and has a 56% Tomatometer score and 78% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, it had four Oscars nominations and broke a Netflix record with 152.29 million weekly viewing hours.

Netflix intends to spend $17 billion on content next year, so it’s imperative that it’s smart about what it invests in. And in order to avoid repeating the disaster of Netflix’s first and second quarters of 2022, the company needs to keep subscribers engaged to limit churn.

Netflix rebounded in Q3 2022, jumping to 223 million global subscribers, so if expanding its preview program proves to be successful, its content could grow its subscriber base even more.

The streamer has seen success with its drama shows like “Stranger Things,” “Bridgerton,” “Squid Game,” and Tim Burton’s newest series “Wednesday,” which just topped 340 million hours viewed. However, Netflix needs more than that if it wants to fill in the gaps. Hopefully, the program will help give the streamer a better idea of what viewers want.

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