In July 2020, Plex introduced a new feature—live TV streaming via the web.
Previously, the only way to watch live TV in Plex was to buy a tuner and antenna. That was both costly and complicated for non-tech-savvy users. The Live TV feature removes that barrier to entry.
But how do you use Plex Live TV? What channels are available? And how does it fit into the rest of the Plex ecosystem? Keep reading to learn more.
Who Can Use Plex Live TV?
Anyone with a Plex account can access the free live TV channels—you don’t need to hold a Plex Pass in order to use the service.
There are also no location-based restrictions on the service; you can start streaming no matter where you are in the world.
What Do You Need to Start Watching Plex Live TV?
Because Plex’s free live TV channels are an IPTV service, you can watch via any Plex app as long as it has an active internet connection. No additional hardware is required.
This means that you can tune in on your desktop, laptop, mobile device, smart TV, streaming box, or any other device that supports Plex.
You don’t even need to be running a Plex Media Server; simply installing the Plex Media Player app will let you access the content.
What Channels Are Available on Plex Live TV?
Like many streaming services, the availability of channels will depend on where in the world you are based.
According to Plex’s own literature, more than 80 percent of channels on the service are available globally, with “a minority of channels licensed only in the United States.”
Some of the available channels include Reuters, Yahoo Finance, Fubo Sports Network, KidsFlix, EDGE Sport, IGN TV, BAMBU, and Docurama.
In September 2020, Plex added a bunch of Spanish-language channels. These include Latido Music, Sony Novellas, Sony Comedias, and more.
Plex has promised that more channels will continue to be added to the service over the coming months and years.
How to Use Plex Live TV
By default, you will see the live TV option in your Plex app’s sidebar. To use the feature, simply click on the menu item.
Once clicked, the electronic program guide (EPG) will load. Use the EPG to scroll through channels and see what’s currently on-air.
If you click on a program, you’ll be able to see some metadata about the content. After you’ve found something you want to tune into, press either Watch Now in the metadata box or hit the Play icon that’s overlaid on the channel’s thumbnail to start watching.
Other Plex Live TV Features
Plex Live TV has a few features that help to improve the user experience.
Perhaps most usefully, you can flick between all channels and HD channels. If you’re serious about using Plex TV as a replacement for cable, you’ll probably find yourself wanting HD content more often than not.
You can alternate between the options by clicking on the All Channels drop-down menu above the EPG.
You can also jump forward in the EPG to see what’s coming up in the days ahead. Seven days of forward data are available. To skip between days quickly, click Today at the top of the page and make your selection.
Lastly, remember you can pin the Plex Live TV menu option to your Plex favorites by clicking on the three vertical dots alongside the menu item and selecting Pin.
How to Personalize Plex Live TV
Plex Live TV offers a surprising number of customization options.
Most significantly, you can both hide and reorder any channels in the EPG. Which means you can hide all of the unappealing content that you know you will never watch, making the EPG more focused and easier to navigate.
It is also possible to decide whether to display the last three channels you accessed at the top of the guide so you can get back to them quickly.
You can even hide certain channels from child accounts—though Plex warns that at the moment, children can still personalize the guide themselves to make channels visible again. A channel lock feature has not yet been developed.
You will not find these types of personalization options on many free live TV providers. Often, the providers want to throw as many channels as possible at you so they can squeeze every last drop out of ad revenue and affiliate money. Plex’s inclusion of customization options helps it to stand out.
To make the changes, open the EPG and click on the three dots in the top left-hand corner.
Does Plex Live TV Have Any Restrictions?
Sadly, because the service is free and relies on partnerships with the major TV networks in a given country, it does have some restrictions that you need to be aware of.
Firstly, you cannot pause or rewind live TV channels. If you miss the start of a movie or a sports event, you’ll just have to accept it.
Secondly, there is no DVR function. This differs from Plex’s support for OTA channels, which will allow you to make recordings via the Plex app.
Are these restrictions a fair trade-off given the amount of free content? We think so, but you will need to make up your own mind.
Removing Plex Live TV
If you’ve explored the Plex Live TV service and decided it isn’t for you, you can hide it entirely from your Plex account.
Doing so means you won’t be able to access the service at all from your Plex Media Server or any Plex Media Player apps connected to your account.
To disable Plex Live TV, open Plex in a browser, go to Account > Account > Online Media Sources, and change the Live TV option to Disabled. You can also select Disabled for Managed Users; doing so will let the account administrator see the Live TV feature, but no managed accounts (such as children) will be able to use it.
What Other Free Streaming Is Available on Plex?
Plex now offers three native ways to access free content, even if you don’t have any of your own locally-saved media to add to the app.
In addition to live TV, you can also stream TV through an aerial and access a massive video-on-demand library. So, what are you waiting for?
Here’s our layman’s rundown of Plex VOD, including how to start using it and what shows are available to watch!
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