From its roots as a DIY streamer for digital media collectors, Plex has expanded into ad-supported entertainment by striking content deals with Hollywood studios and TV networks. Today, it's announcing a $50 million funding round that could fuel its transformation into a one-stop shop for all things streaming. Plex plans to put around 30 percent of the new capital toward expanding its service to integrate popular streamers and premium video on demand titles for rental and purchase by 2022. In total, it has raised over $60 million to date from investors including Intercap and Kleiner Perkins.
In essence, Plex is harnessing its venture funding to build a home for personal curators and general binge-watchers alike. The move could help to secure Plex's future in an era when streaming services — and the connected TV platforms, like Roku and Android TV, that offer access to them in one place — pose a threat to its raison d'être. By seamlessly blending personal and third-party content (including the majors like Netflix and Disney+) Plex could go from a lone survivor of the personal media era to an established streaming player in its own right.
A big part of its goal is content discovery. Plex says its mission is to use viewing activity to give you TV and film recommendations. The more content it has to offer (whether free movies, live TV or rentals) the more it can cater its service to meet the needs of its 25 million registered users. It already has 240 entertainment deals in the bag for its growing ad-supported service with the likes of Lionsgate, MGM , AMC and Crackle, among others. But, adding the main streamers could help turn it into a true household name.