Plex works by connecting your media, the Plex Media Server, and the various apps for all your devices—browsers, mobile devices, game consoles, streaming devices, home theater PCs—but, what parts are free to use and what parts are paid for?
The basic functionality of Plex is completely free, which includes playback of anything on your server, as well as podcasts, news, and web shows. Plex mobile apps require being unlocked (through an in-app purchase or a Plex Pass subscription), and premium features are restricted to those with an active Plex Pass subscription.
The “Free to Use” Parts: The Server and Apps
There are some details to get into, but the summary of “free” is simple:
- The media you own is yours. Of course, we don’t charge you in any way for that.
- The Plex Media Server is free to use and includes the Plex Web App.
- Our 'Movies & TV' streaming service is free to all users and ad-supported.
- “News”, “Podcasts”, and “Web Shows” support are free for all users.
- All of our non-mobile, public apps are free. These include Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Plex Media Player, Roku, Smart TVs, TiVo, and game consoles (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One).
- 30-second previews of songs from TIDAL are available to anyone in the app.
- Our mobile apps (Android and iOS) can be used for free, but have limitations.
- Until the mobile app is unlocked (through an in-app purchase or a Plex Pass subscription), video and music streamed from a Plex Media Server has a 1 minute limit, and photos will be watermarked.
The “Paid For” Parts: Apps and Plex Pass
There are really two things that are “paid for” within Plex:
The Plex Pass subscription includes free use of the paid-for apps as well as other features and benefits (Plex Pass subscriptions are generally intended/beneficial to the Plex account that is running the Plex Media Server):
- Activate all of our mobile apps (Android, iOS, Windows, Windows Phone) simply by signing into your Plex account within the app.
- Live TV & DVR: Watch and record over-the-air broadcasts available in your area, using a compatible tuner and digital antenna.
Update (March 2020):
Get Live TV and 48 hours of guide data free for the next 90 days (through June), no Plex Pass needed! DVR recording will continue to require a Plex Pass subscription.
- Add lyrics from LyricFind to your music libraries to follow along whenever you want.
- Invite full Plex accounts (not just managed users) of family members to be a part of your Plex Home, allowing easy switching between accounts, and restrict what content you share from your server.
- Get early preview access to new apps and features.
- And even more!
As mentioned above, apps for some devices have in-app purchases that unlock the app to remove playback limitations when streaming from a Plex Media Server:
- Android (mobile), iOS (iPhone and iPad), Windows, and Windows Phone apps have one-time, in-app purchases.
- Again, a Plex Pass subscription will activate these features without additional purchase.
In addition, streaming music through our partner, TIDAL, requires an active TIDAL subscription—either billed/managed through us or elsewhere, with the TIDAL subscription linked to your Plex account.