Plex’s Discovery beta connects streaming via Netflix, Disney Plus, and HBO Max

Plex’s latest beta features are a modern-day solution to a modern-day problem — you have to scour HBO Max, Netflix, Disney Plus, and similar three other services to find something to watch. The company announced a new “Discover” feature that aggregates and recommends content from various streaming services, and a universal watchlist that collects everything you want to watch in one place.

The Discover screen acts like most streaming services’ homepages, giving you recommendations on what to watch next, but offering the ability to view content from many different catalogues. However, it shouldn’t overwhelm you with a choice you don’t have access to. There is a setting that allows you to select only the services you have. Plex has been working for several years to position itself as the legitimate one-stop shop for streaming — and an ad-supported free TV business model — that the new menu may finally be able to pull through.

The Discover screen, currently in beta, showing content from Disney Plus, HBO Max, and Apple TV Plus.
Image: Plex

There’s also a new Watch From These Places feature, which helps if you know what you want to see but not where to find it. It adds a section to the Movies and TV Shows About page that shows which streaming services are offering that content. On some versions of the app (which is available on devices like Apple TV, Fire Stick, Roku, PlayStation, Smart TVs, etc.), Plex can even redirect you to the streaming service directly from the page.

Watch From These Places makes it so that you don’t have to search through multiple apps to find a specific show.

The list of streaming services that Plex supports with these features is, to put it lightly, immense. It includes all the big names like Hulu, Disney Plus, Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, and Peacock, along with — no joke — almost 150 others (that I had never heard of, like Martha Stewart TV). . Basically, if you can legally stream what you’re watching anywhere on the internet, Plex can probably tell you about it, with only a few exceptions. And of course, you can have it scan your Plex libraries for self-hosted videos or other media as well.

Look how small this scrollbar is.

Plex’s support page states that “not all platforms allow sending the user to the appropriate streaming app”. Reports on Reddit indicate that Roku is a big platform that can’t link. It seemed to work fine when tested on my Apple TV, but it was clearly a beta. I was able to open links for Netflix, Hulu, and Apple TV Plus, but got an error when trying to open links for HBO Max and YouTube. Plex said the apps didn’t install even though they were. On the web version of Plex, it worked for every platform I could try (although opening things on YouTube only took me to the search results page for the title instead of the actual page for the movie itself).

Personally, this might be what ultimately drives me to use Plex. I recently experienced what the company cheekily calls a “streaming battle,” in which my wife and I spent an hour trying to figure out what to watch. Most of the features Plex is adding here aren’t unique – Apple TV has built-in universal search and allows you to create a watchlist (although these features have very limited support for content on Netflix). Google is quite good at telling you which services a show or movie is available on, and other smart TV platforms have universal search capabilities too. But it would certainly be nice to have everything in one place and in a relatively uncluttered interface that works on many different devices.

These features should be available for free on most platforms as long as you’re using the most up-to-date version of the Plex app. I didn’t have to sign up for a beta program to get access to it, but you may have to follow Plex’s instructions to find it depending on your settings.

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