Plex launches its foray into the free, ad-supported video streaming world with a collection of thousands of movies, TV shows, concerts, and documentaries that can be streamed on any device that has the Plex app, or on the web. Available in more than 200 countries globally, Plex claims the new service will only show a third as many ads as viewers have come to expect from traditional broadcasters.
Plex has been gradually adding major studios to its list of content partners for the service, which now include MGM, Legendary, Lionsgate, and Warner Bros. The result is a list of movies and shows that go beyond the B-movie rankings you might expect from a free service, with titles such as Rain Man, The Terminator, Thelma & Louise, Leaving Las Vegas, Raging Bull, Apocalypse Now, and The Usual Suspects.
Not all titles will be available in all locations, but that’s pretty standard for any streaming service with the exception of content that is 100% owned by the company, such as Netflix’s Originals, or virtually the entire Disney+ catalog.
The free streaming experience on Plex is something of a departure for the company, which has traditionally focused on helping people organize and watch their collection of privately owned movies, shows, music, and photos. Plex users normally have to install and run a Plex server — the software that does the media organization as well as the reformatting needed to make sure those movies play correctly on the various devices that have the Plex app.
With the new service (which Plex refers to as AVOD or “ad-supported video on demand”) no Plex server is required. Simply open the Plex app that is preinstalled on your smart TV or streaming device (or download and install it for free) and start browsing the collection of movies and shows. You’ll need to create a free Plex account, but this is quick and it doesn’t ask for any payment information.
If you already have a Plex server setup, the new collection of content will appear alongside your other media in its own sidebar category. In some ways, being an existing Plex user with a personal library makes the AVOD experience better right from the start. Plex can analyze your personal media to get a better sense of what to recommend from the ad-supported library. Other streaming services — both paid and free — need to watch your streaming activity over days, weeks, and even months to understand what you like.
The new service joins Plex’s free news streaming service that launched in 2017.
The free Plex streaming library competes with Roku’s own Roku Channel, PlutoTV, IMDB Free Dive, and Sony Crackle. Plex’s biggest advantage in this race is the sheer number of devices that already support the Plex app. It’s available on every single streaming device we can think of, most game consoles, a huge variety of smart TVs, and even some cable boxes and DVRs like the Tivo Bolt.
Although the future ability to add subscription streaming services alongside the free, ad-supported content isn’t something Plex is willing to confirm right now, it’s pretty clear this is the direction the company needs to take as it moves away from relying on its Plex Pass members for revenue.
You can already do this within the Roku Channel and Apple’s Apple TV app — another streaming environment with strong and growing hardware support. It’s also worth noting that Plex lets Tidal subscribers integrate that streaming service’s catalog into the Plex experience.
- Outside the Megaplex: Here are the Houston arthouse movies showing Nov. 29- Dec. 5
- Ad-supported Hulu subscriptions are down to just $2 for Black Friday/Cyber Monday
- Ted Cruz, A Troll, Releases Anti-Trans Ad Supporting Discriminatory Bathroom Laws
- Best Black Friday ads 2019: Deals still available from Amazon, Costco, Walmart, Best Buy and Target
- 'The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show': What You Need To Know, How To Watch and Stream Album, New Song 'Glittery'
- Star Wars Timeline: How To Watch Movies & Shows In Chronological Order On Disney Plus
- Iceland Christmas ad: Petition to show it on TV hits 670k
- Kajal Aggarwal's Denim Dress Is A Fuss-Free And Smart Number That We All Need
- UN Report Shows the World Needs to Cut Emissions 78 Percent Over the Next Decade
- ‘Daughters of the Dust’: Why the Movie That Inspired ‘Lemonade’ Is Back