Plex started as a way to manage your personal media collection, and it still does that. Over the years, it has added additional features like free online streaming content and live broadcast TV support. The latter is part of the paid Plex Pass subscription, but it’s free for the next three months to help people cope with the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.
Plex’s feature set can be befuddling from the outside, but most of it revolves around taking a disorganized media collection and turning it into something usable. It can scan your files, download metadata, record watch status, and stream to multiple devices from your centralized Plex server. That server can be a computer, NAS box, or even an Nvidia Shield Android TV.
Plex puts select features behind the Plex Pass paywall, which runs $5 per month, $40 per year, or $120 for a lifetime subscription. One of those features is the live TV support, which is free for the next three months. That doesn’t mean you can get started for free. You need a digital TV antenna, and not all of them work with Plex. There’s a list of known good antennas on Plex’s site, though.
After adding the antenna and scanning for channels, you can watch TV live with 48 hours of guide data for free. Some parts of the live TV experience remain exclusive to paid accounts, though. Plex Pass lets you use your server like a DVR to save and organize broadcast TV, provided you have enough space. A single hour of 1080p HDTV content can take up 6GB of storage, after all. Plex subscribers can also add multiple tuners to record more than one program at the same time.
Plex is probably hoping that adding more free features in the short term will get people hooked on the Plex experience. If you’ve got any content ripped from discs or “obtained” by other means, Plex will organize and ready that for streaming automatically. Anyone who wants to keep using the live TV features will need a Plex Pass this summer. That also unlocks syncing content for offline viewing, movie trailer integration, advanced audio features, a user dashboard, and more. Subscribers also get occasional discounts on hard drives, TV antennas, and other accessories.
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