Entertainment Tech News

CES 2020: Plex Is Ready to Take the Battle to Amazon, iTunes, Vudu

Dan Price 09-01-2020

Plex was in Las Vegas at CES this week to talk about its ever-growing suite of services. The company is already the most full-featured video management/playback app out there, but the upcoming 12 months promise to take the organization to ever greater heights.

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For those who missed the announcement, Plex launched an ad-supported on-demand streaming app in early December 2019. The service is seen as a direct competitor to Roku’s “The Roku Channel,” and is already available in more than 200 countries worldwide. It offers content from partners like MGM, Lionsgate, and Warner Bros.

plex ces

At CES, however, the company was keen to talk to us about the roadmap for rest of 2020, and there’s some exciting stuff on the horizon.

Most notably, it will begin offering subscription channels to its users. There’s not a definitive timeline, but the reps we chatted to were hopeful that we’d see it go live at some point in 2020. We don’t yet know exactly which channels will be offered, nor do we know the prices you’ll have to pay for access. You can expect to see the usual big name such as HBO and Showtime become available.

Here’s how Plex CEO, Keith Valory, explained the decision:

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“Through the process of doing these deals with the AVOD (ad-supported video on demand) partners, we found a lot of those same companies have their own SVOD (subscription video on demand) channels they would like to deliver through us, or have a strong desire to have their content included in some types of either linear or SVOD bundles.”

Plex will also offer a marketplace feature in the app. Again, the specifics are still a bit hazy, but it is assumed that it will allow users to either buy or rent the specific content they’re interested in.

Of course, the big question is whether Plex’s users will start using the app for their subscription needs. The ad-supported VOD service will undoubtedly be popular, but the company faces stiff competition from apps like Netflix, Amazon, and Apple for both subscription and rental services.

What do you think about Plex’s new offering? Let us know in the comments below.

Related topics: CES, Plex.

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  1. Mark Finney
    March 23, 2020 at 12:17 am

    There’s nothing wrong with ambition, even when it’s blind - sometimes shutting yourself off from what’s going on around you can be a good thing. But, I’m not sure it’s working out for Plex.

    Akin to a mediocre college project, their Smart TV app has much room for improvement. It’s slow to load and render media content - local content rendering takes at least 3 times as long as Netflix. Search regularly returns less than half the episodes in local box sets despite running their latest client and server components and keeping up with server-side admin. You can’t even ‘exit’ the app on my OLED WebOS TV without forcing it by holding the back button on my remote.

    And today, experience took a further nose dive when the app stopped running all together and just sat there with its wheel spinning. Fortunately, XPlay, a stable and more performant 3rd party client app comes to the rescue and is at least able to serve up my local media content.

    You would’ve thought any company expanding its service scope would want to continue to appeal to its loyal customer base whilst at the same time attract new ones via a great customer and end user experience. Sadly, in my view they’ve stretched themselves too far.

    The Netflix, iTunes and Amazons of this world certainly have nothing to worry about any time soon...

  2. Jean-Francois Messier
    January 17, 2020 at 12:32 pm

    I looked at PLEX as a way to make all my own media content available elsewhere, on my own server. I chose something else to put my own content online. Our [supposedly intelligent] TV has PLEX on it, as well as other apps for online content. I can see why PLEX wants to get on more online content from movies companies and other content providers. Not everyone wants to spend time to organize his/her own media files, setup a server with content, etc....... Much easier to just get everything online with a monthly cost, and this is what PLEX is offering. Simplicity will boost its userbase. The difference will happen when PLEX will also have its exclusive content. Question is: Will PLEX be able to attract big names to produce series or movies that will be good enough to attract new subscribers? Until then, I expect PLEX to remain cheaper than Netflix.

  3. Joe
    January 16, 2020 at 3:27 pm

    I wish that plex could figure out a way to integrate my watch lists from other services (netflix, hulu, etc) into my library. I HATE HATE HATE the endless scroll of Netflix.

  4. Hans
    January 13, 2020 at 2:29 pm

    Why are these services so expensive? Apple TV+ is only $4.99 and Netflix/Amazone/Disney are close to that.

  5. James
    January 9, 2020 at 7:33 pm

    This feels like unwanted feature creep. It was bad enough when Tidal found its way onto my dashboard. I fear Plex will lose its user base if they forget the core reason people use it: to index and play their own files.

    • Jeff
      January 10, 2020 at 2:13 am

      I agree. Feature creep could potentially be Plex's downfall if they aren't careful. Especially as it seems to be distracting them from basic improvements to their core system, like organizing multiple cuts of movies and other feature requests that have been hanging for a few years now.