Plex Makes a Content Play

Plex, the company behind a streaming app for local and cloud-based video and other media, is getting deeper into the content game via the acquisition of Watchup, an ad-based streaming news service that aggregates content from a wide range of sources.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but the near-term plan is to integrate Watchup into Plex, a media platform that supports several streaming platforms, including the Nvidia Shield, Xbox One and Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PS4, several smart TVs, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku players, Web browsers, TiVo boxes and iOS, Android and Windows mobile devices boxes.

Plex expects to be in position to stitch in Watchup and launch it on an initial batch of clients by sometime in the second quarter of 2017, Keith Valory, Plex’s CEO, said.

Plex and Watchup started to discuss an integration plan last year, but that those talks evolved into M&A discussions.

“I think we both quickly realized that it would make sense if the user experience was more tightly coupled,” he said.

Founded in 2012, Watchup grew up as an ad-based offering.

While it’s too early to discuss future business models for Watchup once it’s tied into Plex, “we are approaching this now as a clean slate and we’re open to new creative ideas,” Adriano Farano Watchup’s CEO and founder, said.

Farano also confirmed that all of Watchup’s existing agreements with publishers have been carried over to Plex. There are more than 150 of those, but examples include CBS, CNN, Vox, Euronews, Hearst Television, as well as Watchup investors such as Tribune Media, McClatchy and Turner Broadcasting.

Other Watchup investors include Ned Lamont, founder of Campus Televideo, NextNews Ventures partners Gordon Crovitz, Jim Friedlich and Craig Forman, who are also former execs with The Wall Street Journal. Forman was recently appointed CEO of McClatchy). Watchup has raised about $4.3 million, according to Crunchbase. 

All nine employees of Watchup are joining Plex, the companies confirmed. 

More detail on the deal and its implications will be featured in the February 6 edition of Next TV, the special section that runs each week in Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable.