Plex Blog

April 5, 2022

Kiss the Streaming Struggle Goodbye with Plex

Ahhh the app dance. You know the one—where you sit down with the best intentions of watching a movie but after 30 minutes of pin-balling from one streaming app to the next you finally surrender the remote and fall asleep to Seinfeld…again. If this familiar routine gives you the icks, you’re not alone. Not long ago, we stumbled onto this amazing fact: On average, viewers in the US alone spend over 600 million minutes every single night trying to figure out what to watch [Accenture]. For the golden age of streaming, that feels a bit… broken. In fact, the majority of television subscribers find it frustrating to navigate between different streaming services, and 44% of streaming audiences say they can’t find anything at all [Horowitz]. We’ve all spent countless time juggling all of our different subscriptions and free services, jumping from Disney+ to HBO Max to Hulu to Amazon Prime to Apple TV+ and back, not to mention ad-supported streaming, plus rentals or purchases, only to still not know what to watch. It’s what we’ve affectionately named the streaming struggle.

So, the question is, how do we make streaming fun, easy, and delightful—taking out the struggle, but also making sure the sense of discovery and surprise is still there? Our solution was to find a way to give you access to anything and everything in the streaming universe from a single destination. Less searching, more watching. Bye, bye, streaming struggle.

It’s the What That Matters, Not the Where

As you all know, at Plex, we take our media incredibly seriously. And when we started to have the nightly problems of untangling all of our different services, it occurred to us that there had to be a better way. But who could do it? Clearly HBO Max didn’t want to tell you what was on Hulu, and Netflix wants you to watch Ryan Reynolds in Red Notice without alerting you that Ryan Reynolds is also starring in Free Guy on Disney+ as well as on HBO Max (a most confusing state of affairs). As a consumer, it’s the “what,” not the “where,” that matters. Meaning, we care way more about the movies, shows, actors, and filmmakers than we care about which apps carry them.

So we started to dream up a rather big dream—a system that unifies all of your subscription services, all of your watchlists, and all of your recommendations into one easy-to-use app.

Houston, We Have Discovery

Today, we’re proud to be launching an entirely new section of Plex, focused on discovering, searching, and personalizing movies and TV shows across virtually any streaming service—whether it’s Plex’s own free movies and TV, or your other subscriptions like Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, and as many of the various personal media libraries you have access to. As of today, Plex searches, personalizes, and organizes all of your content, no matter where that content lives. Now, when you log in on any of our major platforms, including Roku, Apple TV+, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, iOS and Android mobile devices, smart TVs, game consoles, and the web app, you’ll get a new welcome screen that will invite you to customize your preferences.

Then comes the fun part. A whole new world of daily discoveries will greet you from your home screen. See what’s new and trending from all of your selected services (whether it’s Amazon Prime, Paramount+, Funimation, Hulu, or hundreds of others, all localized to your specific region)—plus personal media libraries that you access—in one streamlined view. Browse curated recommendations, watch trailers for new releases—all from the comfort of your Plex app.

Search Better than Sherlock

If it exists, we’ll find it—even if it’s not on Plex. Just Plex it. For instance, if you’re hankering to rewatch Little Miss Sunshine, open up Plex on your phone, laptop, tablet, or TV and we’ll show you on which of your services it’s available. Easy, accurate, quick—now you just need to search one app instead of a dozen.

You can search for pretty much anything in the known mediaverse:

  • By keywords—actors, directors, and more
  • Upcoming theatrical releases
  • All your favorite streaming services in addition to Plex 😉
  • Any of your personal media servers


Build One Watchlist to Rule Them All

And with our unified Watchlist, now you can keep a single, central list that covers what you might want to watch on any service. So, instead of a watchlist on your HBO Max account and your Amazon Prime service and your FXNow service, you just add it all to your Plex Watchlist. And what’s better, when you add Beavis and Butt-Head Do America to your list, we’ll always know where you can watch it when you’re ready—because it was on Hulu when you added it but who knows what service(s) it’s on now (oh that’s right, we do!).

Again, because we focus on “what, not where” our only mission is to get you to the right piece of content at the right piece of time, no matter where it is.

Track Movies Past, Future, and Present

When you hear about that new movie coming out later in the summer (Jurassic World Dominion, anyone?) you can add that to your Watchlist too. And you’ll be able to keep tabs on when it’s in theaters, when it’s available to rent, and when it’s available to view on any of your services. So now you finally have a universal “to watch list” that gets better and better over time. Just check out our new collection titled “Available From Your Watchlist” which will tell you when and where your movies and shows you added to your Watchlist are now available.  

In the Discover source, you’ll notice a list of trailers for upcoming movies and shows. You see something you like, and you can add it directly to your Watchlist from a button on the trailer. Now you’ll never forget about that movie you read about at a film festival, or that obscure new Scandinavian murder-mystery show that your co-worker is raving about. Add it all to your Plex Watchlist, so when you sit down ready to watch something, you have everything that you want to watch that is available to stream at the top of the list. No more debate, no more hunting, just turn on Plex, click your Watchlist, and start streaming instantly.

But Wait, What If It’s on a Plex Competitor’s Service?

Yep. We will tell you that too. Even if it means sending you to one of our many well-funded competitors. Because again, our mission is to serve you and your needs. While we have a great amount of free movies, shows and other content (over 50,000, titles last we counted) and over 250 free Live TV channels that we think you’ll love, we’re smart enough to realize that it’s a big universe out there, and the heart wants to watch what the heart wants to watch. So again, our goal is to support your viewing experience, no matter where it takes you. You can trust that the results we are providing you with are the most accurate ones around.

It Works with Your Personal Media Content… If You Want

For our personal media fans, take note that many Discover features (such as content availability checks) also work with any personal media libraries you have access to. Because we take privacy so seriously at Plex, we wanted to explain that availability checks talk directly to the media servers and not to any hosted services (to be clear: you’re not ever sending a list of your server content to Plex). Instead, Plex client applications will check directly for a match within the libraries you have access to. (Note: In order to have your server be included in availability checks, you will need to make sure your movie & TV libraries are using the latest agents—this feature won’t work with older agents.)

And Somehow This Is All… Free?

Again, this is something we’re very stoked to finally be sharing with the world. And for you newcomers to our community, yes, all of the new Plex features described above are 100% free for everyone (though there are some amazing pro features available for a very reasonable $4.99 USD per month, if you want to really level up your media game). Which means you can make Plex your daily driver for all your content discovery, trailer watching, watchlist organizing, universal search, and of course, free streaming.

Get In on the Beta

So today we’re releasing all of the above features as a publicly-available beta. Because it’s brand-spanking new, drop us a note in the forums to let us know what’s working for you and what you wish it would have. Trust us, this is only the beginning as we drive down our feature road map. We’ve been testing it internally for the last few months, and we’re already completely hooked. Whether you’re a free streamer, or a Plex Pro user with a server and media drives, we believe you’ll love the convenience, power, and simplicity of the new Discover.

So give it a spin and let us know what you think—you will find it rolling out on your client today! And if you’re an early bird and you don’t see it yet, make sure you’re on the latest app release, wait an hour or two, close and restart your client, and it should be available shortly.

But wait, there’s more! Check out these support articles to dive deep into Discover.

Discover (Beta):

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