Plex to add movie and TV show purchases as it adapts in the post-piracy age

Plex moves into TV and movie rentals and purchases to try and capture more of the cord cutter market

(Image credit: Plex)

Plex, the media server company, is launching its own store for TV and movie purchases and rentals next month, February 2024. "Most studios" are already on board for the planned February launch, and while Plex has previously announced this feature arriving in 2020 and again in 2023 it seems that it really means it this time.

The news comes via the entertainment industry newsletter Lowpass, which says that in addition to the store "the service is also gearing up for some big changes under the hood, additional social features, and a significant redesign."

When Plex announced its plans last year before apparently delaying them for the second time – "it was a lot harder than we thought," the firm admitted – TechCrunch went into more detail: the company was intending to launch a subscriptions feature "which would allow users to subscribe to paid streamers through Plex. And it aims to introduce recommendations in its Discover section launched earlier this year, offering users a Universal Watchlist and its first social experiences."

Plex is making plans for streaming success

Plex began as a hobby back in 2007 when Elan Feingold ported the XBMC media player to the Mac. Feingold then became part of a team developing the new app further, and for many years what became Plex was seen as a product primarily for the home media hardcore. But in the late 2010s the firm began targeting the cord-cutter market more widely, and in 2017 it launched its own streaming TV service. It expanded into ad-supported streaming in 2019, and launched an ad-supported live TV service in 2020.

The worry for some Plex users is that the service is now being pushed not by a desire to make the best product, but to deliver the biggest possible growth to its heavyweight financial backers: the news that Plex plans a major user experience refresh to, as The Verge puts it, help people "to watch ad-supported movies and TV shows and FAST (free, ad-supported streaming channels)" has some worried that the app will turn into more of a hard sell for its own channels and store. 

The fear isn't so much that the app will have those features; it's that Plex might put them at the centre of the app whether you want them to or not. Hopefully the integration will be handled in much the same way as the integration of audio streaming services such as TIDAL: there if you want it, but not in your face if you don't.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series; her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, was shortlisted for the British Book Awards. When she’s not scribbling, Carrie is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind (unquietmindmusic).