Plex Said to Be Mulling Ad-Supported Movies and More Premium Content Subscriptions

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jan 8, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    In a bid to compete with the likes of Amazon Prime and Roku, Plex is reportedly planning to offer users ad-supported movies and premium content subscriptions through its platform.

    Plex Web Shows

    According to TechCrunch, the personal media management service is already in discussions with rights holders and networks to bring ad-supported content to the Plex platform, in a manner similar to the way in which The Roku Channel got up and running.

    It's also said to be in talks with premium networks and content providers about offering their programming and subscriptions through Plex.

    The idea apparently emerged out of Plex's agreement to bundle Tidal's music streaming service, as this meant it had to build transactional capabilities into its platform that were previously non-existent.
    The premium content would be presented to users through the existing Plex interface, which is organized by media type (music, movies, TV, etc.), and would allow them to easily see what sort of content they have access to based on their subscription.

    Meanwhile, ad-supported movies would be delivered using Plex's existing ad tech platform, which serves ads in its existing streaming news and web show series.

    Before it can offer the new content, Plex reportedly needs to further develop its digital rights management system and one-off purchase transactions backend. It also has to work out how the premium content would be bundled and offered to both paid and non-paying users.

    However, all being well, Plex hopes the new content will make its way onto the platform before the end of 2019.

    Article Link: Plex Said to Be Mulling Ad-Supported Movies and More Premium Content Subscriptions
  2. glowplug macrumors member


    Jun 22, 2017
    As a longtime Plex user and subscriber, it better be *very* optional. I did not install Plex to watch advertisements.
  3. T'hain Esh Kelch, Jan 8, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019

    T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    Maybe they should get their ass together and fix their clients on multiple platforms before adding more crap their paying users aren't asking for. Their server software is amazing, but their clients are helt together with ducttape and filled with bugs and lacking basic features, which the community has asked them to fix/add for years. Their response the last couple of years? Complete silence, except for the occasional blog post about yet another half-baked feature being added, which may or may not work (YMMV).

    I personally took the plunge to Infuse to replace the Apple TV Plex client, because I got tired of their attitude and lack of bug fixes, and have not looked back. It is quite crazy, but Infuse works miles better with Plex Server than Plex's own Apple TV client. And their developers are *really* responsive, so I am quite happy now. My only caveat is that Plex holds the keys to my Server, and can in theory shut it down whenever they want, but I guess I will move to Emby when that happens.
  4. Kabeyun macrumors 68020


    Mar 27, 2004
    Eastern USA
    Or even corporate-served content in general. It’s about our bloody libraries!

    This, more or less.

    I don’t love this news. The original point of Plex was to be an ecosystem for serving our own media. I’ve got 2000 movies and 10,000 television episodes organized nicely and available anywhere. Slowly they’ve been morphing to include other content, through channels, then broadcast TV, and now premium partnerships. Sure someone might enjoy having a single front end for everything but not me. And I’m concerned that my library will get progressively diluted by other stuff as content ownership becomes a thing of the past. I just pray they do the UI right.
  5. Christoffee macrumors 6502


    Jul 26, 2012
    I agree.

    The new clients are bad. I can deal with change, but I can’t deal with my spouse and children keep telling me Plex doesn’t work on iOS. They miss “old Plex” and don’t like “new Plex”. This never happened with v4.
  6. OddyOh macrumors 6502


    Nov 29, 2005
    Regina, SK, Canada
    Call me when they add a slideshow mode to the photos on Apple TV. Load a photo, click play...long overdue.
  7. wlossw macrumors 65816


    May 9, 2012
    Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    If they added Netflix content directly in plex that would be a welcome improvement. Commercials? Not so much.
  8. adamjackson macrumors 68000

    Jul 9, 2008
    They can do whatever they want so long as I can opt-out.
  9. cardfan macrumors 68000

    Mar 23, 2012
    Let’s become the very thing that our customers ran away from.
  10. Diamond Dog macrumors member

    Diamond Dog

    Apr 6, 2018
    I'm gonna guess that the deals required to provide such content will come with stipulations that Plex crack down on users' unlicensed personal content. Yikes!
  11. dantracht macrumors 6502


    Sep 19, 2013
  12. apple_iBoy, Jan 8, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019

    apple_iBoy macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2003
    Philadelphia, PA
    I’m a Plex Pass holder. I’m finding the app more and more cumbersome. With the podcasts, news, web shows and all the rest popping up in my library searches, I’m already feeling like there’s some intrusion into the app’s purpose, for me. Even when I go in and turn those items off, they sometimes still populate the search results, which must be a bug (too many of those going un-squashed).

    A beautiful, clean interface to scroll through posters of my own curated content. That’s all I wanted.

    Over the years, too many once-useful and delightful apps (/cough iTunes) have been saddled with layer upon layer of bloat, rendering them far less usable and compelling. I fear Plex may have already set sail in that direction.
  13. Raineer macrumors member

    Apr 26, 2008
    I'm feeling the same way. Most of the things can be disabled, but what I am most frustrated with is the shift from "Browse" to "Discover". I don't want to "Discover" my own content, I just want to view items in the hierarchy I have created.

    I am also a lifetime Plex Pass holder. I supported "old Plex", and that worked for 3 years. It's still the best way for me to serve the viewing habits for myself and my family, but that advantage is shrinking with all the new things being pulled in.

    I did appreciate the discounts offered with the vendor tie-ins over the holidays. I got a $160 OTA antenna for $38, shipping included. I also took advantage of the discount on the HomerunHD box.
  14. Kabeyun macrumors 68020


    Mar 27, 2004
    Eastern USA
    Just emailed the devs and told them we want them to put the brakes on.

    I also emailed NASA and asked them to add me to their astronaut corps.

    We’ll see which happens first.
  15. alexnyc8 macrumors member

    Sep 18, 2018
    I have no idea why this company decided they are netflix.
    The new clients are HORRIBLE, totally unusable.
    Whats funny/sad there are countless complains for both IOS and Android versions about new UI, yet there is not a single response from devs/management.
    Looks like someones ego was stroked pretty hard there (whoever made this stupid decision) OR as some have said this is a push from "content providers" to crack up on user content
  16. KazKam macrumors 6502


    Oct 25, 2011
    This is disturbing news indeed (both the article and the info about the new clients). I'm not a Plex user yet, but it always seemed like the next logical place for me to go, and one of the last havens (if/when Apple ever completely screws Home Sharing users). Now it looks like this option is out as well for people that just want to manage and own their digital media. Sad.
  17. alexnyc8 macrumors member

    Sep 18, 2018
    This is probably sounds conspiratorial, but there is a intdustry-wide push for you to RENT absolutely everything, without having any easy way to own and manage something outright. Soon the "no easy" way will be replaced with "no way", so to speak boiling the frog slowly.
    This is perfect for the rentier class - they will now own ABSOLUTELY everything.
  18. eltoslightfoot macrumors 6502a


    Feb 25, 2011
    Is there an alternative to plex? I am a paying customer also and noticed everything y’all are describing.
  19. gordon1234 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 23, 2010
    The idea of Plex talking to media rights-holders makes me very uncomfortable.

    The sad fact of Plex is that in the United States at least, there is essentially no legal way to get content into it. Plex only works with DRM-free video, and the only way to get that is to break the encryption. This means that even if you're just ripping Blu-rays you already own, you're still technically breaking the law.

    Plex seems to largely have avoided major legal hassles, presumably because they don't provide any way to "acquire" content, and simply work with what the user already has. I have a hard time believing any content producers negotiating with Plex will be OK with their services being closely integrated with a product that currently deals exclusively with ripped or pirated content without requiring Plex to take measures to limit what users can do with content they provide.
  20. Rique, Jan 8, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019

    Rique macrumors member

    Mar 31, 2011
    Northern Virginia
    This is hugely misleading, and approaches being an out and out untruth.

    There are numerous - entirely legal -ways to acquire TV and Movies for your Plex library. Just spend a few minutes with Mr. Google. He will help you find many paths which can be taken to get to that particular destination.

    EDIT: I particularly object to the phrase "product... deals exclusively with ripped or pirated content". Uh, NO! And I mean hell, no. That is simply untrue.

    I will admit that not every means of acquiring video content is in accord with Terms of Use agreements from some of the streaming providers, but that is a far cry from "illegal". That's some inflammatory language there.

    Also, I seriously doubt that Plex would act as a cop for media-rights holders. That would completely destroy their business model.
  21. shpankey macrumors regular

    Aug 31, 2014
    Supported Plex for years... but I've already left for Emby like everyone else. Dead silence in their forums for support as Plex continued to move more and more towards this ad stuff.

    Couldn't be happier. Emby is better in almost every way for me so far. Simple and yet, more advanced. Ask something on their forum or post a bug and it's fixed in mere minutes/hours. Emby really does blow Plex out of the water and has only gained more momentum with the mass influx of former Plex users.
  22. Rique macrumors member

    Mar 31, 2011
    Northern Virginia
    I looked at Emby about 6 months ago and stuck with Plex. I honestly can't remember why. Don't they charge for streaming locally to iOS devices? Maybe that was it. Also, I can't remember being thrilled with the UI, either.

    Questions - do they support music playlists? How easy is it to make and edit playlists? One of the reasons I don't use Kodi is because management of audio playlists is ridiculous. I realize Emby <=> Kodi, but audio playlists are super important to me. Also, if its true that you need to subscribe to stream locally to any device, how much is the subscription?

    I guess I differ with the majority of posters on this thread... I still really like Plex, but I do have to admit that some of their recent GUI changes are questionable. For the most part, I don't turn that junk on.
  23. gordon1234 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 23, 2010
    Did you actually run this search? Click the link below if you like. Just about every result says the same thing. You can rip your own stuff, or you can download stuff others have ripped. A few people say they get Plex content via recording live TV, but even that typically involves DRM circumvention these days.

    Google Search: plex ways to get content

    If you are in the United States, any content you buy—whether digital or physical discs—is going to be be copy-protected. Removing this copy protection—even for personal use—is illegal: Ars Technica: It’s still illegal to rip DVD and Blu-ray discs for personal use. Even broadcast TV is usually copy-protected. I suppose you could be ripping 20-year-old VHS tapes, but even many of those are copy-protected.

    Don't get me wrong, I think it is beyond ridiculous that content you buy and own can't be legally format-shifted, but here we are…

    I very much hope you're right, and I agree it would be a huge mistake. It sure seems like this is the direction they have been moving for quite some time though…
  24. Rique macrumors member

    Mar 31, 2011
    Northern Virginia
    I don't need to run that search, I own and have used Plex for years. I'm aware of what is completely legal, what is quasi-legal and what is most definitely not legal. What you're describing is deliberate circumvention of DRM, which is not technically legal. However, recording of content you personally own, whether to a tape or to a digital file is not illegal. It would be illegal to distribute that content, but not to record it. It's in the Terms of Use (TOU) where things could get a little "muddy".

    Since you're apparently (mistakenly) sticking to this nonsense that Plex is "a product that currently deals exclusively with ripped or pirated content", here are just two sources of totally legal content (there are others if you care to search):[]=collection:"feature_films"

    The two options listed above include download options. Additionally, as I implied initially, there are ways in which one could record video content to a digital file (not just from your own DVDs and Blu-Rays, but from streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, BBCA, and the like). To record legally requires a subscription, but it most certainly can be done. As for the provider's terms of service, that's another question altogether.

    There are also digital storage services offered for your own content, such as Vudu. Assuming you've purchased the DVD, taken advantage of Vudu (paying for said service), you could arguably use a screen capture tool to record that content as you stream it - arguably legally (again, probably isn't cool with the Vudu TOU, but it is not breaking any laws) - because you are "recording" content which you own.

    Finally, don't forget that there are other options to acquire content which is wholly in the public domain and not subject to copyright laws. The site listed above is a good source for that.
  25. gordon1234 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 23, 2010
    So this is the point where I come to the realization that there is nothing to be gained by arguing this further. I am just going to end by using other people's words:

    Relevant Wikipedia article on DMCA in the United States


    In the United States, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") has implemented the treaty provisions regarding the circumvention of some technological barriers to copying intellectual property.
    Circumvention of Access Controls
    Section 103 (17 U.S.C Sec. 1201(a)(1)) of the DMCA states:
    No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.
    The Act defines what it means in Section 1201(a)(3):
    (3) As used in this subsection—
    (A) to "circumvent a technological measure" means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner; and
    (B) a technological measure "effectively controls access to a work" if the measure, in the ordinary course of its operation, requires the application of information, or a process or a treatment, with the authority of the copyright owner, to gain access to the work.
    Thus, if there is some "technological measure that effectively controls access to a work", it is illegal to circumvent that measure. However, Section 1201 creates several exceptions to this rule, and the Library of Congress is empowered to create additional exceptions.

    That's the relevant section of the DMCA. If it's not clear, here is a more readable summary written by lawyers at the Digital Media Law Project:

    The DMCA prohibits circumventing access-control measures. 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1). For example, if you cannot watch a particular copyrighted DVD on your laptop because of an encryption system, the DMCA makes it unlawful for you to bypass this access-control measure. Access-control measures may also be found on eBooks, Internet streaming platforms, and password-protected sections of websites, among other things. Note that there is no ban on the act of circumventing copy-control measures, but it is illegal for anyone to provide you with the technological tools to do so. In any event, some copyright holders merge access-control and copy-control measures in the same DRM system, making it impossible to circumvent copy-controls (which is not prohibited) without circumventing access-controls (which is prohibited).
    I feel like that is about as succinct and unambiguous as it could possibly be stated, and it specifically addresses the recording of "content you personally own." If you read all that and still feel that it's legal in the US to rip your own copyrighted content for personal use, there is nothing much I can say, except that that opinion would be going against essentially every legal interpretation of the DMCA to date.

    You're right – if you stick to public domain content (which in the US is author's life + 70 years, so we're talking some seriously old video, for the most part), and things like your own family videos, there is definitely content out there that it is 100% legal to put on Plex. I'm sure this does make up some percentage of Plex content. I'm going to guess it is a very, very small percentage, but it is technically a thing.

    Regarding those free YouTube movies: Not any more legal to put on Plex than ripped blu-rays, unfortunately. While most YouTube videos are not DRM-protected, these particular videos are. You can can check this with youtube-dl, which will happily download any YouTube video except the protected ones. Here is the output when I did a dry-run of youtube-dl on one of the movies in YouTube's "free to watch" section:

    youtube-dl -F WzlGrjph9u4
    [youtube] WzlGrjph9u4: Downloading webpage
    [youtube] WzlGrjph9u4: Downloading video info webpage
    ERROR: This video is DRM protected.

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33 January 8, 2019