Plex adds live TV streaming to its box of tricks

If the ideal cable-cutting software had a face and a name, it’d be Plex. Plex, a service known for its ability to send TV shows and movies from your PC to any device running it has always excelled streaming stored content, but soon it will have the ability to stream live content, too. 

Plex’s plan allows you to grab live over-the-air channels via a TV tuner connected to a PC and stream them to your tablet – imagine Sling TV or YouTube TV but without an expensive bill at the end of the month. 

The play into the live TV space comes after Plex announced the ability to record live TV content from an over-the-air tuner in September, and now goes one step further by allowing you to watch content as it happens instead of waiting for it to be transcoded and stored on your PC. 

While Plex’s move to allow live TV streaming will be appreciated by the horde of cable-cutters out there, there are two caveats here worth pointing out: 

First, Plex can only transmit data it collected from a TV tuner – that means it’s limited to stations like ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS, CW, Univision, etc… 

Second, in order to use either the live TV streaming or live TV DVR options, you’ll need to be a Plex Pass which sets you back $4.99 per month (or $39.99 per year or $119.99 for a lifetime subscription).

Is this the future of local TV? Find out at 11...

So why is this a big deal? Considering other live TV services might never get the rights to stream local channels (Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV need to negotiate streaming rights with every single local station to stream those channels), Plex might be the only way you can stream those channels to your mobile devices. 

Adding this live streaming functionality to a service like Plex that already catalogs downloaded content and can send it to nearly any device? Well, that’s just icing on the cake.

To supplement today’s announcement, Plex also said that it would support several new TV tuners – including ones made by Hauppauge, AVerMedia, DVBLogic and others – and a complete list can be found on Plex’s website.

The live TV streaming feature rolls out today on Plex on any iOS or Android TV platform, including the Nvidia Shield, with Android mobile and Apple TV to follow. Expect support for other platforms to follow soon after.

Nick Pino

Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.