PlayOn gets ready to launch a desktop app with ad skipping

Video streaming underdog PlayOn is getting ready to launch a desktop client for Windows in the coming months, which will allow users to play and record web videos from over 100 sources right on their computer. The PlayOn desktop client will also offer an option to skip ads on streams from major TV networks (think of it as a poor man’s Hopper), and users will be able to cast videos to a Chromecast streaming stick or Android TV.

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[company]PlayOn[/company] has been around for years, and was initially trying to solve a simple problem: TV networks weren’t making all of their shows available for streaming on Roku boxes and other connected devices. That’s why PlayOn streamed them to a PC first, where videos were transcoded on the fly, and then relayed to the TV screen. The company eventually added video recording as well, essentially turning computers into DVRs for web video.

All of that didn’t go over so well with content providers, which didn’t like that PlayOn was undermining their streaming policies. As a consequence of this tension, Roku was forced to remove PlayOn’s public channel from its devices.

However, PlayOn CEO Jeff Lawrence wasn’t too concerned when I asked him about this during last week’s CES. PlayOn isn’t officially available on Roku anymore, he explained, but the company still has a channel on the platform: MyMedia allows Roku users to play content stored on their PCs, and a one-time in-app purchase adds the capability to play web videos as well.

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PlayOn’s desktop app promises to relay content to Roku as well and will also support casting to Chromecast. That’s notable because Google hasn’t actually released a Cast SDK for desktop apps — but PlayOn reverse engineered the protocol and made it work anyway.

That likely won’t help PlayOn to get any more popular with networks and device manufacturers, but it could be seen as a wake-up call for publishers that haven’t officially added casting to their media. In the end, users always find a way to play their favorite content on the devices of their choice — whether it’s officially supported or not.