Plex signed a new deal with Warner Bros. to begin offering the company’s content on a free, ad-supported basis to Plex customers. CEO Keith Valory said the deal will be the first of many to come.
Starting later this year, Plex’s users in the United States will be able to access a package of library feature film titles from Warner Bros. The content will be offered within the core Plex app alongside other services the platform offers like access to over-the-air broadcast television, DVR content and personal media libraries.
Valory said that his company is currently working on more licensing deals and it’s looking forward to adding to its AVOD lineup over the next couple of months.
This isn’t Plex’s first foray into ad-supported streaming. The company launched a news service a few years ago after acquiring Watchup. Valory said the Watchup deal helped fill in AVOD and backend capabilities along with AI technology for recommendations and analytics.
Plex right now is primarily offering programmatic advertising. In 2020, the company expects to develop an internal ad sales team, but for now it partners with SpotX for programmatic sales within its news shows and web series.
Besides providing access for advertisers and agencies to new audiences, Plex is pledging to be more generous than other AVOD providers in sending user data back to content companies. Valory said that it won’t provide any data to content providers about what’s in Plex users’ personal media libraries but it will provide a lot of the anonymous, aggregated usage data that comes from opt-in third-party content viewing.
“We’ve got a lot of usage data that we’re more than willing to share with ad partners and content partners, as opposed to using that data as leverage in negotiations,” Valory said.
Valory said that one of the biggest complaints his company hears from content providers is that their distribution avenues tend to hold back data. Plex includes data access in its contracts with content providers, but Valory said that his company goes beyond that by opening up access to data portals and using existing analytics tools like Google to provide better anonymized audience insights. He said the Plex’s perspective is that it’s better to give content companies the data they need to make their businesses more successful, which will in turn make Plex’s business more successful.