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I am trying to build a system that tells the user on which platforms (like Netflix, prime, etc.) a movie or series is available. What is the best way to go about it?

I have considered the following:

  1. Scraping the web to collate this information (it seems too unwieldy)
  2. Manual entry in DB (along with scraping to adjust the data)
  3. using 3rd party APIs (like justwatch or guidebox)
  4. Requesting APIs from the OTTs themselves (probably not going to hear back from them)

but so far, I have not found a solution that works properly. Are there some other ways to collate this data that I'm missing? like how do these 3rd party providers do it? Any help or insight will be highly appreciated.

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Personally, I don't think web scraping is ever the answer, but it has its value to some people (I guess).

Your best bet is probably using 3rd party APIs. The way other services are able to do it is usually by buying datasets or access to APIs. For example, let's pretend I'm Netflix and you're a 3rd party app dev. You want to make an API that returns all the movies I currently host over here at Netflix. I say "I have an API that exposes that information, and I will sell you an API key that will expire in a year for $1,000" or something. Or, less likely considering the volume of data, "I have a spreadsheet with all that information, I will send you a copy for a price."

In either case, companies usually guard their data pretty fiercely and I wouldn't count on access to a dataset like Netflix to be cheap or easy.

In fact, if you did take the scraping approach, I bet you anything companies like Netflix have guards in place to stop people from scraping their data (like blocking IP addresses).

Good luck!

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