Those wishing to ditch their expensive TV subscriptions but still keep live TV streaming, now have a way to do exactly that. That’s because Plex has just unveiled support for live streaming TV that can be enjoyed on just about any device – without restrictions.
Plex has gradually been adding features over the last few years, making it the go-to destination for media server software. It already handles the media files a user owns with ease, adding metadata and attractive cover imagery automatically, but now it’s handling of live TV content puts it in a whole new league.
Live TV on Plex works by attaching a digital tuner and digital antenna to the Plex Media Server, and simply pressing play. While this method won’t get you the pay-to-view channels, such as HBO and Sky Atlantic, it will give users access to the free-to-air channels they love, including ABC, BBC, CBS, ITV and Fox – depending on location.
It’s not just about streaming live TV either, as Plex also has a DVR feature for automatically recording and cataloguing a user’s favourite TV show. The show that is eventually recorded comes complete with all the same metadata and cover art that a user would expect from Plex.
Plex has been increasingly targeting custom installers with its Plex Pro service, and this could be the perfect opportunity for AV professionals to get involved. Setting up a customer on Plex is easy, and not only can it handle live TV and recorded TV, but it can also handle huge amounts of TV shows and movies stored on the media server.
While the DVR feature has been available for a while, live TV will be Plex’s defining feature amongst its competition. Other media server software is better suited to recorded content, rather than live, and content is often tied to one device. Take Kaleidescape for example – which can only be enjoyed through TVs connected directly to the Kaleidescape player, whereas Plex can play live TV and recorded content on a whole range of devices – including iOS and Android smartphones.
There have been improvements to the DVR feature since its launch, however. Including:
- In-app DVR Management: Users can now browse the program guide, manage recordings, and more directly from the Android TV and iOS apps (with more to follow).
- Expanded Tuner Support: Initially Plex only supported HDHomeRun tuners, but it has hugely expanded support for lots of popular tuners including models from Hauppauge, AVerMedia, DVBLogic and more. (We’ve got a complete list here) Several of these USB tuners even work directly with the NVIDIA SHIELD.
- General DVR Enhancements: In the process of building Live TV support, Plex seriously leveled up its core DVR engine. The scheduler is even smarter, and it handles overlapping recordings on the same channel as well as the ability to watch live and record simultaneously.
While Plex is supporting all these new features, it comes at a cost, albeit not a particularly high one. That’s because users need a Plex Pass subscription to get live TV and DVR, as well as lyric support for music, automatic back-up of photos and videos from a mobile device, and support for offline playback. All those features currently run for around £3.99 a month, £31.99 a year or £94.99 for a lifetime membership.