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Plex Flexes Live TV Muscles

Adds free live TV broadcast channel support to Plex Pass subscribers 6/01/2017 9:00 AM Eastern

Offering another technology option for a small but growing group of cord-cutters, Plex has added a free Live TV component that’s available to all customers who subscribe to its Plex Pass service.

That live TV component, accessible by tying the Plex app to a video source such as a digital over-the-air TV antenna or a digital tuner, is now capable of integrating local HD broadcast channels that can be played back on iOS devices and Android TV devices, starting with the Nvidia Shield. Plex plans to add Android mobile devices and Apple TV boxes soon, followed by other streaming platforms. Outside the new live TV scope,

At launch, Plex’s live TV service, which includes an integrated programming guide, is compatible with several antenna and digital tuners, including the WinTV-dualHD, WinTV-HVR-955Q, Digital TV for the Xbox One and all SiliconDust HDHR models for North America, as well as several for Europe, Australia, Africa and Asia, including the TVButler 100TC, SiliconDust HDHR, and Freeview HD TV for Xbox One, among others.

Plex also views its new feature as a solid successor to Microsoft’s discontinued Windows Media Center product and as a complement to SVOD services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Notably, Plex’s system also supports digital tuners with CableCARDs, such as HDHomeRun Prime from SiliconDust, for customers who do get a pay TV service from a cable operator.

According to Keith Valory, Plex’s CEO, the addition of a live TV component has been the most asked for feature among subscribers, a service that costs $4.99 a month, $39.99 a year, or $119.99 for a lifetime pass, and includes access to a DVR service with remote access of recordings that is currently being offered in beta, as well as offline playback. Plex users can set recordings from the TV as well as its app.

About 55% of Plex users are based outside the U.S., hence the reason to have broad tuner support, Valory said.

Plex, a privately held company that enables users to organize and stream content on multiple devices, won’t reveal its subscriber numbers, but the company has more than 13 million registered users.

Plex is also expanding into its own content following the recent acquisition of Watchup, an ad-based streaming news service that aggregates content from a wide range of sources.

RELATED: Plex Makes a Content Play

With the addition of live TV, Plex puts itself into a category that is being targeted by other suppliers of devices that bring local TV to an array of screen types, including Nuvvyo (Tablo and the just-launched Tablo Dual), Dish Network (AirTV Player), TiVo (Roamio OTA), and ChannelMaster (DVR+), among others.

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