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Plex is a global streaming service of free ad-supported video, with TV shows and movies from distributors such as Crackle, Warner Bros., MGM, Endemol Shine Group, Lionsgate, and Legendary. Plex is also a client–server media player system plus an ancillary software suite. The Plex Media Server desktop application runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux. The server desktop application organizes video, audio, and photos from a user's collections and from online services, enabling the players to access and stream the contents. There are official clients available for mobile devices, smart TVs, and streaming boxes, a web app, and Plex Home Theater (no longer maintained), as well as many third-party alternatives.
Free Plex accounts can share their personal media libraries among a user's own collection of devices or to friends, and access Plex's content library of ad-supported video on demand (AVOD). Plex Pass is the optional paid-subscription service including synchronization with mobile devices, cloud storage integration (no longer available), metadata fetching for music, support for multiple users, parental controls, live TV and DVR, trailers, extras, and cross-selling offers.
Plex began as a freeware hobby project in December 2007 when developer Elan Feingold created a media center application for his Apple Mac. He ported the media player XBMC (now known as Kodi) to Mac OS X. Around the same time, Cayce Ullman and Scott Olechowski—software executives who had recently sold their previous company to Cisco—were also looking to port XBMC to OS X, and noticed Feingold's progress via XBMC online forums. They contacted him and offered support and funding, forming a three-person team in January 2008.
The team released early versions of the port, called OSXBMC, intended for eventual full integration into Mac OS X. The developers continued collaborating with the Linux-based XBMC project until May 21, 2008. Due to different goals and vision from the XBMC team, they soon forked the code to become Plex, and published it on GitHub. The OSXBMC code was kept roughly in sync with the upstream XBMC code.
In December 2009, the US-based Plex, Inc. was founded with Ullman as CEO and Feingold as CTO. At that time, Plex had 130 apps, the most popular of which were viewers for Apple Movies Trailers, YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, MTV Music Videos, BBC iPlayer, and Vimeo. Feingold declared Plex apps had been downloaded about one million times. As of July 2016[update], Plex had 65 employees.
In December 2019, Plex, Inc. announced ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) of TV shows and movies available globally to free Plex accounts, from publishers including Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, MGM, Lionsgate, and Legendary.
Plex is a media player system with a client–server model. Plex Media Server stores, organizes, and streams all content, while the clients are the playback applications running on myriad devices and web browsers.
Plex Media Server (PMS) is the back-end media server component of Plex, free of charge. It organizes audio and visual content from personal media libraries and streams it to their player counterparts, either on the same machine, the same local area network, or over the Internet. It can run on Windows, macOS, Linux, FreeBSD, NAS devices, or on Nvidia Shield TV.
The server can acquire content from files, iTunes, iPhoto, Aperture, or the Internet. The music library is automatically organized by ID3 or M4A tags, such as title, artist, album, genre, year, and popularity. Plex Pass users also have the ability to access the whole music video catalog from VEVO.
Player apps are Plex's front-end, allowing the user to manage and play music, photos, videos and online content from the Plex Media Server. Most of them are free of charge.
- Plex Web App – Plex released a cross-platform web app on November 16, 2012.
- Plex Media Player – Only the host parts of the application are open source.
- Plex - Successor to the Plex Media Player compatible only with 64-bit versions of Windows 10 and MacOS High Sierra or later
- Plexamp and Plex Dash
The basic Plex player app runs on a multitude of platforms and devices: Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS, smart TVs and Blu-ray devices, webOS, Vewd, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Roku, Sonos, TiVO, Windows Phone, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.
- Jellyfin, a fully open-source alternative to Plex
- Kodi (software)
- Self-hosting (web services)
- Comparison of DVR software packages
- Comparison of video player software
- Home theater PC
- List of video players (software)
- RasPlex, Plex for Raspberry Pi
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