A new streaming company joins the live TV action. Today, Plex announced live TV streaming support for its Plex Pass members. The streaming content service can now stream live TV from over-the-air (OTA) providers directly through the Plex app. Supported networks include major channels such as ABC and CBS in the US, and most of the free DVB channels in Europe and around the world, giving subscribers one place to broadcast most of their streamable content.
Plex’s new live TV beta is available to all users with a Plex Pass. As long as you have an antenna and a digital tuner, you can stream HD digital broadcasting channels, including local news and sports, right from the Plex app. Every digital antenna works with Plex, and the company is constantly working on adding more tuner support. Currently, all HDHomeRun models are compatible with Windows, Linux, Nvidia Shield, OS X and NAS systems in the US, Europe, Australia, Africa and Asia, while the compatibility of other tuners depends on the platform. Plex Pass users don’t pay extra for live TV streaming – it’s bundled in the subscription, as are other features, such as DVR and cloud sync. However, time-shifting features for live TV, including rewind and fast-forward, will not be available at launch, but will come at a later date.
Until now, Plex only offered TV content through its DVR service, which is also out of beta today. While not live TV, the service allowed Plex Pass holders to record OTA broadcasts for free using SiliconDust HDHomeRun devices. Those DVR recordings were available on all Plex Pass holder devices. Now with live TV integration, you can set which shows to record directly in a Plex app (previously, recorded shows had to be set up only via the web app) and watch them on any device associated with your Plex account.
Plex’s DVR service isn’t cloud-based, which can be good or bad depending on your preferences: all recorded content is stored on your own PC, NAS, or hard drive, so you have as much storage space as you’re willing to pay for. With other live TV streaming services, such as Sling TV or YouTube TV, you may have limited recording hours, or unlimited space, but only so much time to watch your recorded shows before the oldest content is deleted.
Ars received a short demo of Plex’s live TV streaming on Android TV, and the feature is built right into the existing Plex app, so users don’t have to go back and forth between different apps to watch TV or their personal content. While there are no live previews like in YouTube TV, each channel lets you browse what’s currently on TV, and each show’s avatar also tells you how many minutes are left in that show. Live TV doesn’t stop while you’re browsing, so you can keep watching one show while searching for the next one at the same time. You can also choose a freely available show to record and watch later by setting rules for recording in the app. The experience is simple and looks good right away within the easy setup of the Plex app.
The service is another way to watch live TV, but Plex’s TV streaming is quite different from YouTube TV or Hulu with Live TV. Plex didn’t have to make special contracts with cable providers like the other services did, and that’s because the only live TV available is what’s free in your area. If you have an antenna and tuner installed, you can watch live TV on Plex from any of the networks that broadcast free OTA content.
Plex co-founder Scott Olechowski and CEO Keith Valory told Ars that the company isn’t trying to compete with all the new live TV streaming services that are popping up lately. Those, including YouTube and Hulu, charge anywhere from $35 to $40 a month for access to a live TV package, while Plex focuses on providing a simple and convenient environment for both live TV and personal media content to watch. to live. Olechowski and Valory aren’t ruling out opportunities to add more content to Plex in the future, but they wouldn’t elaborate much on what that content might be. Plex acquired streaming news service Watchup earlier this year, and Olechowski and Valory said Plex is building infrastructure to bring some sort of customizable news feed to Plex users.
Plex’s live TV streaming service is now rolling out to those who have a Plex Pass. That includes all subscription tiers: the $4.99 per month (~£4) tier, the $39.99 (~£30) annual price, and the $119.99 (~£90) lifetime one-time cost. Plex’s live TV streaming service has been available on iOS devices and Android TV since its inception, and coming soon to Android, Apple TV, and other devices.