A big update for the Plex Roku Channel

12.08.12 79 Comments

The Roku is one of our favorite ways to get Plex on the big screen. I actually used to own two Roku SoundBridges back in the day, so my love for the company goes way back. But seriously, what’s not to love about those sexy little boxes? They’re affordable, reliable, and have 1080p output; we know people with 4 of them connected up around their house, all streaming from a Plex Media Server.

Speaking of streaming to multiple devices at once, our friend @andersnorberg conducted an interesting test with the new release of the media server, which has some really nice optimizations to reduce CPU usage. He was able to stream 720p and 1080p content to twelve devices at the same time from one of the new Mac Minis without a problem. He literally ran out of devices without being able to overload the server (see photo below). Got any other crazy stories for us about how you’re running Plex in your underground vampire-themed club in Berlin, or on your laser-shark-equipped 200 foot yacht in the South Pacific? Let us know.

Plex roku

Anyway, we have a nice update to the Plex Roku channel which we’d like to tell you about. As you might know, the channel is open source, and we always welcome contributions. We’d like to give a shout out to flyryan, whose changes we’ve incorporated into this new version. Here is the full list of changes:

  • Some internal re-architecting to use a single message port/loop. Not exciting, but a ton of work and the thing that enabled most of what’s on this list. It also means the code should be a bit cleaner, feel free to contribute!
  • Background audio support: Audio no longer stops playing when you leave the screen on which you started playing it. Among other things, you can listen to music while browsing for videos or more music to play, and you can start a slideshow while the music continues to play in the background. You can navigate to the currently playing audio from the home screen or by hitting the * key on most screens. How cool is that?
  • Remote control: You can actually fling media over to the Roku and control it with another Plex app (this requires an updated media server which will be out in a week or so).
  • Added myPlex recommendations to the home screen.
  • Added global Recently Added and On Deck to the home screen.
  • Additional display preferences, home screen rows and section display rows (all, on deck, unwatched, …) can be reordered.
  • Improved the load time on grid screens.
  • Added preference for subtitle color (soft subs only)
  • Added a delete button, when the media server is configured to allow deletion.
  • TV theme music!
  • Basic support for stacked (multi-part) videos.
  • Small bug fixes around subtitles and surround sound.

We are aware of one high profile bug that has not been addressed yet; some people
see crashes on some files with 5.1 audio. We’re working with Roku to figure
out what’s causing the problem, likely some combination of transcoder and Roku firmware.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedIn
Share this


  • I have never been successful in playing any of my itunes video content. I’ve searched the forums and tried several fixes and still can’t play my movies and tv shows that I purchased through itunes. The videos are there, the theme music plays when I click on the video but it will not play the movies and tv shows. I am also having difficulty with the android ap (now you see it,now you don’t; the content is there and then it’s not). I will revisit Plex in a year or so when it is no longer in it’s infancy. Plex is a great concept that has not arrived yet for me. See you next year.

    • @Helen ~ iTunes video content can and will never play with Plex (or anything other than iTunes/Apple software) since the DRM on those files prevents it.

  • what might be causing my roku XR to crash playing an mp4 file through plex? I have updated software for plex and the roku itself. most files seem to play file, but some mp4’s cause the roku to crash and restart. changing the direct play/transcoding settings don’t work. it’s already set to stereo play and not 5.1. are there other known issues with the XR? will I need to upgrade?

  • I am more than tired of the shitty Plex on roku. Its unreliable ridiculous UI and features from the 80s…been using plex and roku for years and it keeps leaving my super disappointed and I dont recommend it to anyone at all. Love the concept, but in reality anyone I know says it just sux….prove me wrong, I would love for it to work stable, solid and the community full of life….but it aint so…..disappointed!

    • @Mike ~ you’re in the minority, thankfully, but if you have any constructive details on how we can make it better, we’re all ears!

  • Plex works very inconsistently with both of my Roku’s. Sometimes my queue appears, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes channels are available, sometimes they aren’t. It’s as unpredictable as the weather. Plex is like a box of chocolates……

  • The first time I connected Roku3 with Plex it worked. I could see the content on my computer. Each subsequent time I have tried, no content appears. I’ve tried getting new pin. Doesn’t seem to work. Any advice out there? thanks, carolyn

  • Plex is working fine with my Roku 2XS. However, I used to be able to click on a video in Plex/Web and send it to the Roku. Now every time I try it I just get an error. Is it because the program was updated on the PC side, or is it the Roku update that killed the functionality?

    • @Cyberxion ~ control to the Roku should work fine, please let us know if that’s not the case after updating the Plex roku app.

  • The new casting feature only works for me when the app is open on the roku. If the app is open, casting works fine but that limits the usefulness. Is there anyway to cast from plex to the roku without the plex roku app already being open? Similar to how the Netflix/Youtube casting works on the roku?

    • @Cory ~ not at the moment, but it’s something we’d like to do, if it’s possible.

  • Is there a way to change the way Roku 3 interface works ?
    showing the grid for movie posters from top to bottom, instead of left to right.

  • I really like the library lists on the left hand side.

    I don’t like the “hubs” and its way of categorizing the media.

    Any chance their could be an option so that Movies -> All Movies comes up first, by default, rather than getting the hub categories, then having to select All (or unwatched) movies?

    Or, maybe an option to just disable this “hub” feature. I understand the reasoning behind adding this feature, but having movies such as “Home Alone” and “Home Alone 2″ in a “Top Movies with Catherine O’Hara” hub doesn’t really benefit me.

    Also, will their (or is their) an option to display just the text titles for a library, rather than the media art?


  • ok the plex for roku app is stable and runs mp4 videos just fine.. but it has flaws…. side scrolling thru 500 movies a-z to find the one you want to play truly sux……. it needs the ability to jump from A to W to M to Z with 1 click.. it also dose not need a ton of catagorys like recommended,,, by author by year by title bla bla bla..that just bloated crap… sleek fast intuitive way to get to what we want to watch is the answer.

    • @chris ~ I’m not certain we’re talking about the same app. The Roku preview app: (1) plays videos other than MP4 perfectly (2) has a nice little A-Z bar you can jump from letter to letter quickly (3) has rich filtering/sorting. So…I’m honestly just a bit confused :)

  • The new ROKU app is overall very good. I have encountered only two problems.

    1) I can not find a search in the app
    2) When playing TV episodes I cannot easily go to the next episode

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>