Plex Acquires Watchup, News Streaming Service

More good news for us cord cutters! Plex has announced that it has acquired WatchUp, a streaming service that bundles together video content from 200 news channels and offers them to viewers through an app for iOS, Android, Fire TV, and Nintendo Wii.

Having made its name in enabling users to stream their own media, Plex is opening a door to becoming a digital content service that brings in more sources with this acquisition. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, so it’s not clear what Plex paid to bring WatchUp into the fold, nor how the integration will work off the bat.

WatchUp is an aggregator that allows users to pick and choose which sources they want to populate their feed and can then stream their content at their leisure. The video comes from national and local news outlets, plus some international ones, but also includes footage or segments posted to websites.

WatchUp hasn’t confirmed how many users it has amassed to date, but Plex claims to have as many as 10 million, and its app is available on a pretty wide range of devices, be it smartphones, tablets, streaming boxes and game consoles. The company has long targeted cord-cutters to bolster its numbers, and looks to have brought in news junkies with this move, too.

“By joining Plex, we are accelerating the pace of this transition in partnership with many of the most trusted news organizations. Together with the unparalleled streaming device footprint of Plex, we can reinvent the video news experience for today’s news viewers,” said Adriano Farano, founder and CEO of WatchUp in a statement.

Plex CEO Keith Valory lauded the deal, saying the industry “has a lot of work to do to deliver on the promise of enjoying content anytime, anywhere, on any device.” The implication is that the company is only getting started in finding new partners to work with in laying out that vision. He didn’t elaborate on which services may be in its sights.

Plex did recently release its DVR service through a deal with SiliconDust’s to stream and record cable and over-the-air (OTA) programming from the latter’s HDHomeRun box. Other devices are reportedly in the works to add to the compatibility list. The company also released its Cloud invite-only beta last fall that allowed for streaming content stored on supported cloud services, except it dropped Amazon Drive in the new year due to functionality problems.

For the moment, the WatchUp apps and website are working as normal, and it doesn’t appear those currently using it will have to do anything just yet.  Plex didn’t indicate exactly when the company expects to fully integrate Watchup into its platform but keep an eye out in the coming few months, as the app integration rolls out.

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Scott Hart

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5 Comments

  1. I prefer, and paid for, Emby for my specific interests. But Plex is the dominant player in this market. It's interesting to see how they evolve from simply a home-media streaming system.

  2. Ushabye

    I wish they'd coughed up for a DTS licence instead. The re-encoding lag forced me to stop using Plex.

    I am confused by this statement. Why would they need a DTS license? They can pass the DTS signal through and the receiver decodes it. Or, the DTS has to be re-encoded to something the player understands (which in most cases seems to be DD).

  3. Hi, many of my digital movie files are DTS only, and when I play them through PLEX, I tend to get lulls or buffering as it transcodes the DTS. I mostly use it on Apple TV. It's my understanding to avoid this I would have to produce PCM files of the movies.

    On the PLEX website:
    "Content with DTS audio will have the audio automatically transcoded (using the standard DTS core track) by the Plex Media Server in order to preserve the surround sound audio channels.
    We're working with Microsoft to bring DTS playback support in the future."

    If I've got the wrong end of the stick here, I would welcome any advice 🙂

    Cheers!

  4. If your device supports DTS you can tell Plex to send it 'direct'. It appears that your Apple TV does not support DTS so Plex has no choice but to transcode to AC3.

    In my case, I have my devices passing the audio through to my receiver. I can pass all current formats with no problem. Some of my family do not have this option so my server has to convert for them. I've never had an issue with the conversion (it is very easy on the processor).

    You mention Microsoft? Are you also using an XBox? I do not believe it supports DTS either but I do think it will pass the audio to a receiver if you have one.

    BTW – This is not a limitation of Plex. It is the limitation of the client hardware.

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