Plex confirms plan to launch TV and movie rentals next month

Media streamer Plex's long-delayed plans to launch a marketplace for TV and movie rentals are finally being realized after multiple false starts. The media startup originally announced its plan to expand its streaming service to include rentals just ahead of the Covid-19 pandemic, which impacted launch plans alongside other technical concerns. Then, at CES a year ago, Plex said the rentals market was due for a second-quarter launch. But that window was missed, as well.

Now, the company is confirming a scoop by Janko Roettgers, who recently broke the news that Plex's TV and movies store will launch next month after chatting with Plex execs at CES.

Plex confirmed to TechCrunch that Roettgers' story is accurate, though noted it didn't include specific details like show titles or launch partners. It also said that the exact timing of the store's arrival is not public yet. However, the report indicated that Plex had "most studios" on board, with plans to add more over time.

The streaming media software maker has for a long time planned to enter the TVOD market (transactional video on demand, aka rentals), to complement its ad-supported streaming that now fuels the business's revenue streams. The idea is that the storefront will allow Plex users to find movies and TV shows for on-demand viewing, allowing Plex to become more of a one-stop shop for your media content.

The company admitted last year that delays to its progress on this front were often technical in nature, saying it experienced issues around getting the DRM to work, resulting in Plex switching providers. It also said getting studio approval was a holdup, as was a move from one third-party partner to another for its AVOD (ad-supported video on demand) service. Progress then got held up again as the team had to tackle an unrelated technical bug that was causing streams to stop randomly on Android TV, Fire TV, and Android mobile platforms.

With those headaches behind it, the rentals service is finally nearing launch -- for real this time, Plex says. We expect to hear more about this next month.

In addition to the TVOD store, the report noted Plex's plans for the year ahead included a redesign and additional social features, too.