Plex gives you instant access to all your media, from wherever you are. But there’s a whole wealth of content just waiting for you on the web. That’s where Plex channels come in.
You’ve probably seen the Channels menu option on your Plex server, but what are channels and how do you use them?
What are Plex Channels?
Most people who have ripped their Blu-ray and DVD movies to digital formats will use Plex to manage that content. Plex became famous for letting people access their media from anywhere.
But if you’re like me, you probably have some stuff that you stream directly from the official network’s websites. Many networks will let you stream a couple of the latest episodes free of charge. If you don’t mind waiting 24 hours, this is usually Others offer highlight clips or behind-the-scenes videos. The bad part is that they normally pack those shows with commercials to make up for the ad revenue they’re losing from cable TV providers.
One of the best things I’ve noticed about Plex channels, and why I started using them exclusively, is that they almost always strip out the commercials and just give you the stuff you actually want to watch.
So what are Plex channels?
In a nutshell, Plex Channels digs through all of the free content from the web sites of television networks and streaming services and organizes it as easy-to-find way – right from within Plex.
If you’re a Kodi user, this may sound a lot like addons, and there are a lot of similarities.
Personally, I think that Plex channels offer a slicker user interface and better quality streams than their Kodi counterparts. Oh, and did I mention that the official Plex channels are all completely legal?
For it’s part, Kodi has much more content, as well as streams that offer free movies for those who care more about watching the latest movies than caring where those movies came from.
How to add channels to Plex?
Plex channels are managed from your Plex media server. Once they’re set up on the server, you can access them from any of your Plex clients including your streaming device, smartphone or tablet.
No matter what Plex client you choose, I find the easiest way to manage my Plex server is through a web browser.
My main Plex server is a Windows 10 PC which serves up the media files stored on my NAS (Network Accessible Storage). Since I want to take you through how to add channels to Plex from start to finish, I’ll be using a completely blank server. In this case, I’ve already signed in to the media server on my NVIDIA Shield TV.
There’s a basic tutorial on Plex.tv for installing Plex Channels, but I think it leaves out a lot of the details.
The Channels menu is located on the left sidebar, under the Online Content heading. You’ll also find anything you’ve tagged for later viewing, as well as any recommendations under this subheading.
Once you get to the Channels page, you’ll see a list of Plex Channels that you’ve installed (if any). Our page is completely blank, but don’t worry – we’ll fix that.
Let’s install some channels.
Once you click on the orange Install Channels button, you’re taken to the Channel Directory.
From here you can look at the most popular channels or browse by different media types, new channels or channels that were recently updated.
By clicking on the channel’s icon, you get a pop-up blurb with a brief description of the channel and the type of content you can expect from it. In my case, I’m installing the CBC channel.
As you might have guessed, you can install any Plex channel by clicking on the big orange Install button from the pop-up description box. Installation normally only takes a few seconds, depending on your Internet speed.
Once the channel is installed, the description box will have a couple of new options: Browse, Update and Uninstall.
Browse will be slightly different for each channel. Depending on what content is available, you’ll be able to look at clips, trailers or full episodes. For example, in The CW channel, I can see full episodes for any current TV show.
Update will check to see if there are any updates for this particular channel. There’s a better way to keep your channels updated, and we’ll get to that later.
Uninstall will remove the channel from your server. You can also do this from the Channels page by clicking on the little red X on the icon.
Remember that better way to update your channels? If you go back to the Channels page, you’ll see a grey button that says Check For Updates. This will check if there are any updates available for all of the channels that you’ve installed. This is much faster than going in to each channel individually and checking for updates within the description box.
Plex is incredibly easy to use, and adding streaming content using Plex Channels is no exception.
If you want one central location for your content, instead of having to log in to multiple web sites individually, then this is a quick and easy way to expand your media library with even more content.
Do you have a favorite Plex channel? Let us know in the comment section below.