Plex not working anymore on your smart TV? This might be why
Trying to watch Plex on your smart TV but getting a message saying the server is currently unavailable? Your TV might be to blame. As it turns out, some manufacturers have stopped updating older smart TV models, leading to this issue. The good news is there’s a workaround to get you up and running again.
Plex has shared an important announcement via its forums and sent out emails detailing how some older smart TVs will no longer be able to use secure connections to Plex servers. Manufacturers of the affected TV models are no longer supporting them via updates, and thus they no longer have an updated certificate.
The issue affects TVs from Samsung, LG, Vizio, Hisense, and others on certain operating systems. A non-exhaustive list shared by Plex is shown below.
What went wrong
The issue appears to be a security certificate expiration. The culprit is likely the Let’s Encrypt’s DST Root CA X3 cross-signed certificate, which expired on September 30th. As noted by TechCrunch, Let’s Encrypt’s free certificates have been widely used across the internet since 2014, when the nonprofit began issuing free certificates for people to use. A whopping 380 million certificates had been issued as of 2018 across 129 million unique domains.
When Let’s Encrypt first started, they used the existing “DST Root CA X3” cross-signature on all their certificates. This ensured that older and current devices at the time immediately trusted those certs. Let’s Encrypt now relies on their own “ISRG Root X1” signature for all certificates.
The problem arises on older devices that still rely on only the CA X3 signature. Because that signature is now expired, devices like older smart TVs, older phones, and more will no longer establish secure connections.
How to fix it
Plex states that if your server is located on the same network as your TV, you won’t have any issues. However, if the server you’re connecting to is remote, you’ll need to change the Plex settings on your TV to allow for insecure connections. To do this, go to settings and find the “Advanced” section. Set “Allow Insecure Connections” to “Always” as seen below. This setting may appear under the “Main” section on a few older TVs.
The Plex server itself will need to have its “Secure connections” setting set to “Preferred.” Most default installs are already set to this. However, if you have manually changed this setting to “Required” you’ll need to change it back. This can be done by going to Settings, finding the “Network” page, and changing the setting from the drop-down menu as shown below.
For those concerned about privacy, this is a pretty big issue. Connections between these TVs and the streaming server will be unencrypted over the internet. Plex recommends users get a newer device, like an Amazon Fire TV Stick, Google Chromecast, or Roku, to continue using an encrypted connection.