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 Movies & Shows, Live TV (from Plex), podcasts, 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 video/music/photo 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 & Shows' streaming service is free to all users and ad-supported.
- Free TV streaming is available from our ad-supported Live TV on Plex service
- Connect a compatible tuner and antenna to your server to let you watch over-the-air broadcasts available at your location live. (Recording of broadcasts requires a Plex Pass subscription.)
- “Podcasts” and “Web Shows” support are free for all users.
- All of our non-mobile, public apps are free (with the exception of Plex Labs apps). These include Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Plex HTPC, Roku, Smart TVs, Windows & macOS computers and game consoles (PlayStation and Xbox).
- 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: Mobile Apps and Subscription Services
There are really two categories of things that are “paid for” within Plex:
The Plex Pass subscription includes free activation/unlocking of our mobile apps as well as other features and benefits:
- Activate/unlock our Android and iOS mobile apps simply by signing into your Plex account within the app.
- Access the Plex Labs apps: Plexamp and Plex Dash
- DVR Recording: Record over-the-air broadcasts available in your area, using a compatible tuner and digital antenna.
- Stream trailers and extras (interviews, behind the scenes, etc.) for content in your movie or TV show libraries.
- 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.
- Skip intros in TV episodes in your personal library.
- Premium music features like Loudness Leveling, Sweet Fades, and Sonic Analysis.
- Hardware-accelerated streaming/transcoding.
- HDR to SDR tone mapping to help preserve colors for playback.
- Get early preview access to new apps and features.
- And even more!
Related Page: Plex Pass Subscriptions
- Access a default library of official, classic, retro games from Atari.
- Bring your own supported game ROMs and emulators.
- Stream from your server to a variety of devices, including Android or iOS mobile apps, Android TV or Apple TV, or your computer.
- Access your games even when away from home.
- Connect your favorite compatible controller or use built-in controls.
TIDAL Music Streaming
- Stream over 80 million tracks, anywhere you are.
- Paid TIDAL plans support lossless music quality streaming.
- Enhance and expand a library of your own personal music by integrating TIDAL streaming.
- Stream music tracks that appear in your favorite movies and TV shows.
Removing Playback Limitations from Mobile Apps
As mentioned above, our mobile apps offer in-app purchases that activate/unlock the app to remove playback limitations when streaming from a Plex Media Server:
- Android and iOS mobile apps offer one-time, in-app purchases.
- Again, a Plex Pass subscription will activate these features without additional purchase.