May 25, 2022

Plex streaming media platform has expanded its mission to become a one-stop media and entertainment store, with new features designed to help users find content to watch through their streaming services. . The company believes these additions will make Plex more useful in today’s increasingly fragmented streaming landscape, where it’s hard to keep track of what services are available to watch, especially when license agreements expire and content changes frequently. ,

“Each has its own ingredients and features. Things move from one shift to another. How do we expect users to navigate this?” Jason Williams, Plex Senior Director of Product and Design, responsible for the current streaming landscape. “We really wanted to fix that… and go back to the roots of Plex, to those user issues with movies and shows,” he continued.

At launch, users go through a brief registration process in which they select various streaming services they can access, both free and paid. This helps Plex personalize its generic search results and new search features.

image credit: plexus

Once the installation is complete, users can search for any piece of content and find where it is available for streaming, renting, or buying.

With this all-in-one search interface, Plex users can search by title, people, genre, or collection – the latter applies to groups like Star Wars, where multiple titles are available under one big umbrella. According to Plex, people search is currently limited to users’ own media collections, but this option will soon be rolled out to universal search.

image credit: plexus

As of today’s launch, Plex has over 450 services indexed for worldwide searches, hundreds of which are in the US, but actual search results will vary depending on your region and what services you’ve accessed in Plex.

When viewing a specific title, Plex displays streaming options that users can access first before other services. It will also indicate if the title is currently available for streaming through Plex’s own ad-supported streaming directory. And it indicates if the user has a title in his/her media library.

On the title page, you can see other information about the series or movie, such as duration, description, category, rating, cast, director, and more. From here, you can also perform actions such as watching a trailer, adding a title to a watchlist, or marking a show as “Watched.” Conveniently, you can choose to run content directly on a specific service by clicking one of the options. This feature uses deep linking technology and will work on the web, Android, iOS mobile devices, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV upon launch. (However, Roku support is not yet available due to existing external link policies.)

image credit: plexus

Another new feature coming out today aims to address the growing problem of too many streaming services. Despite the many options available to us now, it can be difficult to figure out exactly what to look for or remember what you just saw.

Today, users often open their favorite streaming app like Netflix, scroll through the rows of content to see what’s hot, trending, and what’s new on the service, then switch to another streaming app to do so. It’s a frustrating and inefficient way to find new movies and shows that interest you, and ultimately, Williams says, it’s “a terrible user experience.”

Plex’s new Discover section allows users to view curated and personalized content from all of their streaming services.

The top row lets you browse trending trailers to find something to save for later, while the other sections show you your service’s top titles, your service’s trending titles, items viewable from your universal watchlist, your services Let us help you with what’s new. What’s new is available for purchase and much more.

Other recommendations are also available, such as “What’s New for Families” for those looking for more kid-friendly titles on their services, as well as lines highlighting content on a service like Netflix. The benefit of this feature is that you don’t have to scroll through multiple streaming apps to see what’s new and hot right now.

image credit: plexus

To be clear, Plex itself doesn’t work with streamers to integrate what their internal records list as the hottest and most popular content. Instead, Plex relies on partnerships with companies that offer other data streams to build their collections of featured content and then personalize them for the individual user based on the services available to them.

“We look at these different APIs — and some of them use social data — and then put together our own trends,” explains Williams, explaining how the Discover section is programmed. “So this is our take on trends. We are trying to help solve this problem. [people who use] Three or four different services. ,

image credit: plexus

The latest new feature is the long-awaited Universal Watchlist, which combines the functions of Universal Search and Search.

As the name suggests, it’s a way to store the movies and shows you want to watch without having to worry about the service where they’ll be found. If the title is playing it doesn’t matter as the watchlist will point you to all the places where that show or movie can be seen, rented or bought. (This does not include Plex’s free live streaming catalog at the moment, but this may change over time.)

If you’re currently viewing a title from your watchlist, it will be removed so your list doesn’t clutter up what you’ve already watched.

image credit: plexus

The combination of new features will make Plex more competitive with services like Reelgood or Whip Media TV Time, which allow users to search for things to watch through their streaming services and what episodes have been watched is something that Plex offers. your rating. , Feather. But in a way, the update makes Plex competitive with some streaming platforms like Roku, which also offer built-in universal search capabilities.

The change came after a period when Plex relaunched its service for mainstream consumers, not just home media lovers who needed software to organize movies, TV, music and photos on their home networks. The company first entered the large cord cutter market in 2017 with the launch of a low-cost DIY TV streaming service. It later moved to ad-supported free streaming, and in 2020 took on competitors such as Pluto TV by launching a live TV service. Following this growth, Plex announced a $50 million funding round in April 2021.

With these features added to where you want to watch some of the content, the next logical step for Plex is to help users simplify it by selling a subscription similar to the Amazon Prime Video channel or similar options available on Apple TV. Or the Roku channel, among others.

Williams admits that such a situation would be at the cutting edge of the company, but Plex has not yet taken the plunge. However, Plex still plans to launch video and rental stores, which first appeared on the roadmap before Covid thwarted anyone’s plans.

Today, the new features are available to all Plex users, including both free users and paid Plex Pass subscribers.

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