A week after launching a new universal search and discovery tool, Plex is upsetting podcast listeners by dropping support for podcasts and webcasts this Friday, April 15.
The company wrote in a forum:
As part of our ongoing efforts to ensure that we spend our time and energy in a way that best serves our amazing community of users, we have made the decision to end support for podcasts and webcasts. in Plex. We recognize that this decision will have a significant impact on many of you and we apologize for any inconvenience it will cause. You can continue to access these features in Plex until Friday, April 15, 2022, when they will no longer be available.
Podcasts in Plex were first added in 2018, as were webcasts, but it’s unclear how popular they were on the service which today focuses primarily on streaming TV and movies. Plex said it was removing this content because the company wanted to devote “time and energy in a way that best serves our amazing community of users.” This likely refers to Plex’s increased focus on its ad-supported free streaming service, which now drives the company’s revenue.
A spokesperson told TechCrunch that there was a lack of interest in Plex podcasts from users, therefore a decision was made to get rid of them. Although there was no reported user number for this feature, usage was “pretty low”.
Plex told users they could download their podcast subscription list in OPML format by following Plex’s instructions on how to replace the TOKEN with your own X-Plex-Token value – a somewhat technical process that may not make sense to casual users.
It’s no surprise they’re throwing in the towel, given that users have consistently complained about buggy features like playback, episode sorting, and podcast management. One user wrote in the Plex support forum: “Podcasting experience wasn’t that great on Plex tbh and couldn’t see better development or bug fixes so it was wise to let it go to put resources elsewhere.”
When asked if Plex intends to offer a way to access podcasts on the go, the spokesperson replied that the company is exploring different options and “we expect audio to remain skill over time. Plexamp, the Plex music player, has been recently updated over the past two months, with faster and smoother navigation, remote control support, and other newly introduced features.
Meanwhile, Web Shows will shut down on the Plex media server, which is another blow to the service. This isn’t a permanent removal, however, and apparently will “live on in other areas of the Plex app,” the announcement says. We also asked Plex for details on the removals. The spokesperson said: “As support for webcasts ends, we have observed that the best performing content is entertainment related, so we hope to bring this type of content into the right context in the app over time. time.” We’ve been told that around 8,000 hours of webcast content has been removed from Plex.
Last week, TechCrunch announced the addition of the new Discover section, making it easier to discover, find, and customize streaming content across Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, and other subscriptions. Plex also offers Free Live TV Channels to provide users with a “daily solution for news, tech and games, cooking, travel, classic movies, and more.”
These changes point to a company that is now more focused on the parts of the business that make money – which is unsurprising given the $50 million growth round Plex has raised. last year to power its ad-supported streaming service. However, they are a blow to Plex’s stated mission to be a “one-stop-shop” for organizing all user media, including photos, music, audio, TV, movies and more.
Updated 4/12/22, 2:48 PM EDT with direct quotes from the Plex spokesperson.