Plex provides tools to organize your media collection and set up your own streaming solution for playing your videos on a smart TV or streaming over the internet when you’re away from home.

Among other things, the software provides a pretty interface for watching pirated content downloaded from the internet or DVD and Blu-ray videos you’ve ripped yourself — activities that may be illegal in many jurisdictions.

So while Plex itself isn’t really a tool for piracy, it has a reputation for being popular with pirates.

That’s one of the reasons the company’s latest announcement is so interesting — Plex and Warner Brothers have signed a deal that will allow Plex users in the United States to stream free, ad-supported movies and TV shows starting later this year.

Update 9/18/2019: And movies from Lionsgate too.

The move is just the latest by Plex to offer third-party content within the app. There’s also a Web Shows feature that lets you stream free content from web video publishers, and a Plex News feature for viewing news clips from a variety of sources.

Variety reports that Plex hopes to begin selling video-on-demand in 2020, as well as reselling subscription video packages (much the way Amazon Prime Video users can sign up for HBO, Showtime, or other Channels).

But so far the deal with Warner Brothers represents the company’s biggest step yet toward becoming a legit streaming company that offers third-party content… which also has the benefit of showing that Plex isn’t just a tool for pirates.

That said, I certainly hope Plex never gives up on its roots, because it would be disappointing to see the personal media streaming features fade away — it does seem unlikely at this point, given Plex’s existing user base.

Speaking of that user base, they seem to have encouraged Plex to reconsider a recent decision to end support for HTPC users. The company now says it plans to continue supporting its Plex Media Player TV mode with bug fixes for the foreseeable future, will continue to bring new HTPC-like features to streaming devices, and investigate ways to continue supporting home theater PCs.

press release

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5 replies on “Plex to stream free, ad-supported videos from Warner Brothers (Update: And Lionsgate)”

  1. I’m a bit 180 on most of the other comments — I’m actually really excited about this. ^_^; If they get vrv or crunchyroll as a partner, I’d add it in a heartbeat. Plex’s media playback is just better, and it’d be convenient to only have one app to worry about.

  2. My tinfoil hat is tingling even more. My predictions are coming true. 2 weeks ago, Brad reported on their shelving of the HTPC app. I commented on that article saying that I’m pretty sure that Plex is going to partner with media giants some day (or get bought-out), and all their user’s personal information is at risk of being formed into a lawsuit. They hold databases of all the file-names people are holding. It would be incredibly easy for them to partner with a media giant (or get sold to a media giant), and allow everyone holding pirated content to get sued. This is smelling more like a honeypot.

    I’ve never used Plex before, because of this very reason. They hold tons of user metadata, and the moment they form partnerships with Media companies, your data is not safe.

    1. So terribly sorry that we combed all the torrents for popular .MP4 filenames and combed all user metadata for same filenames. So sorry we used filename matches to file for a bucket of RIAA warrants by user payment info for Plex passes. So sorry we made all this money.

      Time to teach the kids to use Kodi to do what they like…

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