Plex today is taking its Live TV service, including its DVR, out of beta, while also expanding to Apple TV and Android, and introducing a new “time-shifting” feature that allows you to pause, rewind and fast-forward through your live TV programs. The company first introduced its DVR capabilities for those who connect a TV tuner and antenna to their Plex setup last fall, then moved to more fully target DIY cord cutters this summer with the added ability to stream live television.
Initially, the Live TV service was only offered on iOS and Android TV platforms, including the Nvidia Shield, but the company had promised Android mobile and Apple TV support was in the works.
Plex’s Live TV service, by way of background, offers an alternative of sorts to the current plethora of live TV streaming services like Sling TV, DirecTV Now, Hulu Live TV, Vue and YouTube TV. But instead of offering “skinny bundles” that combine local broadcast stations with top cable TV channels delivered over the internet, Plex’s service focuses only on those stations you can pick up with an HD antenna you install yourself at home.
The idea is to offer a more affordable way for cord cutters to watch some of broadcast TV’s best programming, without having to spend extra money on yet another streaming service.
At the time of the Plex Live TV launch, the company also expanded its lineup of supported digital tuner vendors beyond the HDHomeRun, which had been, before, the only brand that worked with the Plex DVR feature.
Once your selected tuner, antenna and Plex software area all setup and configured, Plex users can stream live TV and record their favorite shows right from the Plex app. The subscription service that enables this and many other features is called Plex Pass, and is only $4.99 per month – or less if you subscribe monthly or annually.
Also new today, the Live TV service will become even more like a modern version of your old cable TV box, by allowing you to pause live TV, then push play, rewind or jump ahead, when you return from your snack break.
The interest in cord cutter-targeted features is relatively new for Plex. The company’s original focus was developing software for organizing users’ personal media collections. That’s still a key part of what it offers, but Plex is seizing the opportunity to step in where older media player solutions left off.
After all, not all cord cutters will ditch cable or satellite in favor of a live TV streaming solution, as the telcos are now realizing. Their streaming TV customers additions aren’t at the point of offsetting their pay TV subscriber losses.
Plex’s decision to venture into the streaming TV space seems to have been a smart one. When the company announced its Live TV service this June, it had 13 million reigistered users. Now, just a couple of months later, that number has grown to just shy of 14 million, we’re told.
With the exit from beta, Plex Live TV works on a number platforms, including iOS, Android, Android TV, Apple TV, and the web. The company now says that it’s working to bring similar support to Roku, Fire TV, and smart TVs in the near future.