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Plex may take on Roku, Amazon, Apple & others with ad-supported movies & third-party subscriptions

Best known for its apps serving up locally-stored media, Plex is reportedly jumping into the world of ad-supported movies, as well as selling subscriptions to outside services.

For the new content, the company may be building off a recent partnership with Tidal, allowing people to pay $9.99 per month for a bundle including both Plex Pass and Tidal's music catalog. New transaction functions had to be built for the arrangement.

The company is "in discussions with rights holders and content providers," according to a recent report by TechCrunch. Plex users can already stream online news, podcasts, and Web shows, but these are all free.

Roku has enjoyed some success with the Roku Channel, an app exclusive to its platform with a small selection of ad-funded movies. The approach attracted the attention of YouTube, which recently began emulating the formula.

Amazon helped pioneer selling third-party subscriptions with Channels, which lets Prime members add subscriptions to networks like HBO and Cinemax. The advantage is the ability to get on-demand content from multiple services within Prime Video, instead of having to switch apps to find a particular show or movie.

Apple is rumored to be working on its own equivalent of Channels as a companion to over $1 billion in original movies and TV shows. Combined with hardware sales, outside subscriptions could help pay for the costs of the original content and pave the way for a paid first-party service, though Apple is allegedly searching for "tent pole" shows that would draw in the public, much like "Game of Thrones" on HBO or "Stranger Things" on Netflix.

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