Plex, the build-your-own-Netflix software suite, is adding over a thousand movies to the service for free. Films like The Terminator, Ghost in the Shell, and The Right Stuff will be available on demand for anyone who downloads the app to their device. Sort of like Netflix, only free. The news was announced today in a blog post on the Plex website.
If you’re unfamiliar with Plex you’re not alone. The software has a small core of passionate fans (I’ve been using it since 2008), but it has failed to gain the notoriety of similar apps like Kodi. Originally a spinoff of XBMC, Plex allows you to create, essentially, your own Netflix. You provide the content and Plex allows you to stream it over the web, and a myriad of devices, including all Apple products, Android devices, Roku devices, Amazon Fire devices, and even a variety of smart televisions from makers like Samsung and LG.
We’ve praised Plex before for allowing you to do things like creating your own DVR system for a lot less money than cable. However, Plex has always had two big problems. One is the hassle of set up. It’s complex! You have to create a central server on an always-on computer or network-attached storage device, and then you have to download the app to whatever devices you want to stream to and log in. It’s a lot more work than Netflix or Disney+.
The other issue is you have to provide your own content. That means rippings DVDs and Blu-Rays, setting up the DVR, or...finding your content often through less legal venues like Usenet and BitTorrent. That’s not something the average person is going to do and it has grossly reduced the adoption of Plex.
This new service, which provides over a thousand movies for free, on-demand, is meant to entice people who would otherwise be put off by the above-mentioned issues. In exchange for watching a few ads per movie, you get a bunch of free movies! No subscription is necessary. (The ads will not appear on any user-provided content.)
It’s appealing if you’re tired of spending money on the myriad of streaming services offered, but the big question is how good is the actual content. So far it feels an awful lot like my local VHS rental place circa 1993. Thankfully no server set up is necessary to access the free content, you just need to sign up for a free account and download the app.
The new ad-supported video-on-demand service launches today.