Plex is bolstering its TV-related services by introducing access to news through a new feature called ‘Plex News.’ Plex acquired Watchup back in January of 2017 and at the time Plex explained the purchase of the Watchup service was meant to increase the company's ability to deliver news, with Plex News now confirmed as the chosen method of delivery for the Watchup-acquired service and content. In terms of availability, this is a service that is immediately becoming available through the Plex ecosystem, will be available to all Plex users free of charge and does not require the use of a Plex Media Server. This is in short, free access to news from Plex just by downloading the app. The update is rolling out from today and will first land on devices that are enabled with a Plex Pass, with all Plex users expected to see the update arrive within the next few days. Likewise, this is a service which will be available on a wide selection of Plex-enabled devices, including Android mobile, Android TV, Roku, and iOS with Plex confirming that the browser version will also be updated in due course.
The service itself looks to provide direct access to both local and national news channels. Unlike the recently launched live TV service from Plex, Plex News does not provide live streaming coverage of news but instead brings together news pieces and segments from a significant number of major and local news channels. Although this is not live news as it happens, it is a service that will see news content updated every few minutes with the idea being that as soon as a news segment has aired it will be available through Plex News within a matter of minutes. In addition, this is a feature that comes with a number of options to customize the interface for a more personalized experience, including the ability to customize the channels that are shown in a user’s feed in general, as well as customize topics offered from any individual news outlet. So for example, users can effectively reduce the amount of sports-related news they get in general, or just remove sports news coverage from a specific news outlet. Plex has also explained that in due course users will be able to select more than one 'local' area at the same time, thereby offering the ability to switch for access to different locations quickly and easily. Although no particular time-frame for this feature was provided.
While this is being positioned as a free service to all Plex users it is one which adopts an ad-supported format where ads will be shown before or after a video and not necessarily after/before every video. Irrespective of how often adverts are shown or how long any news segment is, news content will play through uninterrupted in its entirety. As this is a feature that is now officially in the process of rolling out, some users will likely already have received the update and the easiest way to check if Plex News has arrived is to open the app on a supported platform and see if there is a new “News” category display at the top of the page.