Channels vs Plex - Live TV


I’m so impressed with the performance of Channels. I learned of Channels earlier this year while searching for an alternative to Plex for Live TV. Plex was, and continues to be frustrating, and is a resource hog. I was trying to explain how much better the performance and experience is to colleagues and decided to just make a video. Channels crushes.

Channels vs Plex

Thanks for sharing.


Good video but I didn’t see what your transcode setting were. Unless you are running a plex pass build with HW transcoding the results aren’t quite fair. HW transcoding on Plex should also be in the main release this week, maybe do a followup video?


Had trouble replying yesterday while on the road.

I’ve been a Plex Pass subscriber (lifetime) for years, and have been on Plex live tv since it arrived in beta for over a year. I’ve attached my transcoder settings.


Not trying to say Plex is better in any way, I have both and BY FAR prefer Channels for Live TV. That being said your video isn’t a fair comparison. In order to evenly assess the load times and gpu/cpu usage you should have both set with HW transcoding either on or off. I don’t know how Channels determines “transcoder quality” so it is probably best to use “automatic” for Plex, and make sure both are transcoding to the same size (example: 1080p 6Mbps).

As you have the setting now I would expect the CPU usage and load time to be much higher for Plex, that is because of your transcoder setting and not really a downside of Plex as you make it seem in the video.


Channels does not need to transcode when watching live tv on the Apple TV, so it will always use less CPU than Plex. That’s why you can use Channels with your HDHR directly, even without having the DVR server installed.


But his video is focused on steaming to iOS, I just think its an unfair comparison to make given his transcode settings.


Well Channels doesn’t need to transcode for iOS either.

Sounds like you should make your own video :wink:


You get what I’m saying though, the video is pretty misleading when he has Plex forcing its slowest transcode speed vs Channels direct streaming. On my Shield I can direct stream live tv from Plex just as fast. Now if he is just pointing out that Channels doesn’t require a transcoder on iOS or tvOs that is fine but apples to apples comparison would involve the setting I mentioned.

Either way, I was just pointing it out because even with transcoding Plex only takes around 3 seconds to start on my iPad using the “automatic” transcode setting. I would still recommend anyone looking for a Live Tv option to go with Channels and am happy being a Channels DVR customer as well as a having lifetime Plex Pass sub.


Jonathan - my intent is not to throw Plex under the bus. I love it for virtually all other media. As the title of this thread and video state, this is purely focused on Live TV. As Aman stated, Channels essentially passes through live tv signal without transcoding. However, transcoding is a requirement for Plex. In my long experience with Plex I’ve found that, if you have strong hardware, making the cpu ‘hurt’ offers the best experience. Anything less than that and it’s buffer city. :slight_smile:

  1. Plex doesn’t require transcoding, it all depends on the client and the video/audio format. If you were in an h264 market Plex would direct stream.

  2. I wouldn’t consider a macbook pro “strong hardware” for a plex server. I’m not sure how yo have everything setup but a decent processor should do just fine with and of the transcoder presets. I used to use Nuc 4010u as a server and had no issues with the automatic preset other than VC-1 taking a little longer to build a buffer.


This has gotten off topic, we both love Channels, I believe the video was a little misleading without listing the transcode setting of each app and that’s all that I needed to say.


Agree re: Channels, but I don’t believe the video is the slightest bit misleading when I listed all hardware and settings. This is my experience. What is misleading is you continuing to refer to transcode settings in Channels when it doesn’t apply.

I look forward to your video. :grin:


Again, your video never mentioned that Channels was set to direct play while Plex was set to the slowest transcoding possible, comparing resource usage and time to start without stating that and showing setting is misleading to anyone that doesn’t understand the limitations of each platform. Here’s an apples to apples comparison on a platform that supports direct stream for both apps. My cable switches to h264 at the end of the year at which time I expect similar performance on iOS. I’ll still use Channels because the UI and feature set are far superior.


Even with HW transcoding on my Mac with Plex the load times are extremely slow. I didn’t make a video, but the video he made isn’t unrealistic at all.


Yeah, they have some work to do on the Live Tv implementation and honestly I’m not sure why they don’t use a player that can sw decode mpeg2 on iOS now that Live tv is official. On the other hand I still use HDHR Viewer a good bit and it’s nearly as quick to start a video as Channels direct playing, so Plex can obviously improve things if Live Tv continues to be a priority. That being said, once Channels irons out the issues with remote streaming I doubt I’ll ever use Plex again for Live Tv.

i5 6600k transcoding on “fast” setting @1080p 8Mbps…


I don’t have a video to prove it but this mirrors my experience comparing Plex live TV and DVR functions with Channels, streaming to an Apple TV from an HDHR and with an Intel i5 NUC as a DVR. Biggest advantage though for me isn’t speed, which is noticeable, but the ability to watch a currently DVR recording show on Channels. Plex can either watch live, or recorded, but not a recording in progress.


There’s a number of videos in this thread… which one matches your experience? Is streaming working as expected, or are you having problems?


I didn’t have time for the back and forth a couple weeks back. For me, the extent to which something ‘just works’ rather than having to fine tune many aspects is a benefit, and I’m one who enjoys fine tuning. For someone who prefers to tinker less, Channels, undeniably, is the winner.

I carved out a moment to capture the time to begin playback with both an h.264 and MPEG2 stream. For Plex, note that hardware transcoding (a recent add for Plex Pass) is enabled. Setup:

2015 MacBook Pro, Core i7 - 2.5Ghz, 16GB RAM
iPad Pro, mid 2017, iOS 11
HDHomeRun Prime


Haha that’s not even close. Great video, and sums up my experience as well.