Media software startup and streamer Plex is expanding its service to become more of a social network, not just a way to organize your home media or stream free content. Today, the app creator is launching a new feature, “Discover Together,” which allows users to create profiles and find and follow friends to discover new shows or movies to watch. The feature was first introduced in beta test last summerbut has been updated and expanded as it rolls out today to a broader Plex user base.
The idea, the company explained, was to lay the groundwork for Plex to become more than just a streaming hub: it also wanted to become a streaming community. With Discover Together, users can add their friends to see what movies and shows they’re watching, bookmark them for later, and how they rate the content they’ve viewed.
Over time, Plex aims to leverage these personal recommendations to also power its own suggestions, and even allow streamers to initiate conversations around their favorite content. This could put the company on track to compete with other online TV or movie communities, like Letterboxd for movie buffs or TV timewhich combines a TV show and movie follow-up with an active discussion community.
Plex’s Discover feature, accessible from the app’s main navigation, has four distinct tabs. The first, Discover, will show you trending content on Plex and your own streaming services, as configured in the app’s settings. This is a broader way to see what content is popular across services, as well as popular trailers and content trends by genre, among other things.
The Profile tab, meanwhile, is where users can establish their identity on this social networking side of Plex, by uploading a profile photo, setting their location, adding a bio and link, and more Again. Here, friends can also view the user’s watch history, watchlist items, and items they have rated. Users can also set privacy levels for each piece of content they have rated. So if you don’t want your friends to know about your embarrassing reality TV addiction, you can hide it. These stats will remain private by default until the user goes through the onboarding process when the feature rolls out this week.
On each show and movie page, there will be a history showing which friends have watched and rated it, to help you determine if you’d like to watch it too. You can also see when you’ve shared content on your network, if anyone has commented on the film on a TV show with additional input – perhaps something like “excited to watch that” or “that wasn’t as good as I hoped,” while they leave their two cents.
In the People tab, you can search for new friends by name, location, or interest, allowing you to expand your social network with people you know, who are nearby, or who like the same type of content as you . From there, you can also check a person’s friends list, if they share it, to see if you have anyone in common. You can also browse friend suggestions based on network and privacy settings.
The Activity tab, meanwhile, looks like the Plex version of the News Feed. Here you can track your friends’ activity on this social networking side of Pex, to see when they’ve watchlisted items, marked items as watched, or commented on a show or movie. (Comments cannot be viewed on the Plex apps for Apple TV or Roku at launch, but will be available soon). You can also mute friends from this feed if you find that their viewing activity does not match your interests.
This friend activity data will also help Plex suggest which shows your friends are trending this week when you interact with its app.
Having used the feature since its beta testing, I found it to be a fairly easy experience to use, but I struggled to find enough “Plex friends” to make it worth my while. browse the feed. Adding the ability to search for users by name, location, and interests will have a big impact on the utility of the feature, in terms of becoming a network that doesn’t rely on your real-world friends being on Plex.
“True discovery must have a social component, and we believe it must be integrated directly into the streaming experience to be useful,” noted Keith Valory, CEO of Plex, in a statement. “Viewers are more likely to watch recommendations from people they know and trust, and integrating that into the viewing experience is surprisingly something that has never been done before.” At Plex, our goal is to provide viewers with the easiest, most efficient, and most enjoyable way to discover new content they’ll love. Discover Together is an important step for us in this quest, but it will only get better from here,” he added.
Along with the launch, Plex is also updating other parts of its software experience. For home media users, for example, Plex will now allow users to report issues with a title, bad language, or subtitles, and the server owner will receive an email alerting them to the problem.
The launch follows a tougher quarter for Plex, whose free ad-supported streaming service was impacted by the advertising slowdown. forcing it to lay off 20% of its staff. The company started the year with 175 employees and a double-digit turnover. Despite the slowdown, the company was still on track to grow 30% in 2023, she predicted.
Discover Together comes today to Plex’s website, mobile app, and TV apps for streaming media players including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Google TV, Roku, Smart TVs (LG, Hisense , Samsung, Sony, Vizio). , game consoles, tablets and more.