After several hurdles, Plex is preparing to launch a video rental service within its streaming platform. The rental service will bolster Plex’s existing FAST and AVOD content libraries while also providing a new revenue stream for the company.
We first got wind of a Plex video rental service in early 2020. The project was sidelined by COVID-19 and remained unmentioned until January 2023. At that time, Plex said that it was still working on video rentals, but it noted several difficulties—”we switched DRM providers … and we had to get approval from all the studios.”
So, we’re now looking at a 2024 launch. After chatting with Plex executives at CES 2024, Janko Roettgers of Lowpass reported that the Plex Movies & Video Store would arrive in February 2024. This store will allow you to rent or purchase content, according to Roettgers.
The ability to purchase and own movies was never formally announced by Plex. And, in a conversation with TechRadar, Plex did not confirm the exact launch date for its rental service. It simply confirmed a 2024 launch window. Plex’s rental library hasn’t been revealed, and crucially, streaming quality is still a mystery. If Plex manages to offer video rentals (or purchases) at a higher quality than its competitors, the Movie & Video Store could prove to be something special.
Hardcore Plex users may see video rentals as another annoyance. This is perfectly understandable, as the video rental service may encroach on users’ personal media libraries. It could also become a source of confusion for family members who aren’t very tech-savvy. On the other hand, Plex is finding a new way to make money and bolstering its relationship with movie studios, which certainly has its legal merits.
There’s just one oddity. The Lowpass report promises a “significant redesign” for Plex in 2024. The redesign will supposedly include new social features and “big changes under the hood.” We already saw a major change to Plex’s design philosophy in 2021, so this comes as a bit of a surprise. Presumably, such a redesign would give Plex’s ad-supported and rental content a more prominent place in the app.