There are so many options for streaming videos now, whether you want to watch them on your computer or mobile device or Smart TV or regular TV with a streaming media player. Unfortunately, all of these options have one serious limitation: you can’t record the videos. Enter PlayOn.

What Is PlayOn?

PlayOn is software that lets you record virtually any video you can access through a website.

NOTE: PlayOn does not provide you with free access to the streaming video providers. So, for example, if you want to record a Netflix video, you must already have an account with Netflix. Likewise, if you need to sign into a cable/satellite provider to watch a video on the web, you’ll need to sign into that service through PlayOn to record those videos.

There are two different ways you can buy and use the software: PlayOn Plus and PlayOn Cloud.

PlayOn Plus is a desktop media server program that you install on a Windows computer. To use it, your computer must be turned on and awake and the PlayOn server must be running. When you record a video, it gets downloaded to your computer as an MP4 file. A lifetime subscription to PlayOn Pro costs $69.00.

Learn more about PlayOn Plus. >>

PlayOn Cloud lets you stream videos from the, well, cloud so you don’t need to install any software to use it. However, it currently only works with iPhones and iPads and is only available in the U.S. at the moment. With PlayOn Cloud, you purchase credits for 99 cents and use one credit for each video you record.

Learn more about PlayOn Cloud. >>

How to record streaming videos using PlayOn Plus

NOTE: If you have a streaming media player that supports PlayOn, you can also stream videos to your TV through that player’s channel/app without recording them. In the following instructions, wherever you see an option to record, you’ll also have the option to cast to any compatible devices it finds.

When you buy PlayOn, you’ll get a file to download to install on your computer and you’ll be emailed a license key to enter into the software during installation. You’ll then have two separate apps installed: PlayOn and PlayOn settings. Before you do anything else, you’ll want to go through the settings app to see all the options available and to sign into any services you subscribe to (e.g. Netflix, HBO NOW, etc.).

Once everything’s set up, there are two ways to record videos. First, PlayOn has dozens of built-in channels that you can browse through the desktop app including Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, HBO GO/NOW, broadcast and cable TV networks and more. You simply browse through the listings to find the video you want and then click the Record button. If you’re recording a TV show, you’ll also have an option to subscribe to it so it will automatically record new episodes when they’re posted online.

Home Screen

Channels Screen

Record Button

NOTE: It can take a while to download a video and you’ll need to have your computer on and PlayOn running the whole time or the recording will fail. You do have the option of scheduling downloads for a non-peak time as well as adding multiple videos into a recording queue.

For videos that aren’t part of built-in channels, there’s a browser extension you can install that puts a PlayOn button in your toolbar. When you go to a web page that has a video on it, you click the button and a special PlayOn browser opens that has a button so you can record the video. If you go back to the PlayOn app, you’ll see it’s been added to the recording queue.

PlayOn Browser

Recording Success Message

Recording Queue

How to record streaming videos using PlayOn Cloud

As mentioned earlier, right now PlayOn Cloud only works on iPhones and iPads, so the first thing you need to do is install the PlayOn Cloud app from the App Store. You can then sign up for an account and you’ll receive a welcome email with instructions for Getting Started. At the time of writing this, the company is offering 5 free recording credits for new members. I don’t know if this will be a permanent offer, but if not, you can buy credits from the PlayOn website.

Once you’re signed up, you’ll be taken to the home screen but like with the desktop version, you’ll want to start by going to the Account settings to log into the streaming services you’ll be recording from. Then you can go to the Channels tab and browse/search for videos and click the Record button. It will be recorded and saved to the cloud and when it’s ready, you’ll have 30 days to download it. At that point, you’re not restricted to downloading it to your iOS device; you can log into your PlayOn Cloud account on a computer and download it there.

App Account Tab

App Video Record Screen

More about PlayOn

PlayOn has a lot of additional features and benefits that I haven’t mentioned. For example, when you stream and record videos, it skips the ads and you can also use it to stream your personal media collection to TV using a compatible streaming player. Also, once a video begins streaming or recording, you can continue to use your computer or mobile device without interrupting it.

Learn more about all the features and benefits of PlayOn. >>

Read the PlayOn FAQ. >>

You may also be interested in:

Streaming Media: News, Views, and How-Tos

Comparing Netflix, Amazon Video, and Hulu Streaming Video Providers

Elizabeth Kricfalusi

View Comments

  • I have a Roku & my cable provider is Xfinity. I'm learning how to cut the cord and have a question about Playon. Do I need to keep my cable provider to watch & record cable channels like Lifetime, A&E & TNT? I'm comparing several internet tv services & this is the only one that warns that it 'may require cable provider to use' next to each channel I picked. Also, you cant get a free trial. Seems counter intuitive to the cord cutter concept if I need cable to use it.

    • Hi Teresa.

      The potential limitation has nothing to do with PlayOn. It has to do with each network's own conditions. There are still a lot of cable networks that require you to have a cable or satellite subscription to stream their shows, although they usually make some content available without logging in. But it's on a network-by-network basis. Another alternative is to sign up for a third-party streaming service (e.g. Hulu, Amazon, Playstation Vue, Sling TV, etc.) if they include shows from those networks.

      You can find more information about cord cutting on this page: https://techforluddites.com/cutting-the-cable-cord/. However, note that a lot of the specifics are out of date (I'm currently working on updating the section) but the basic concepts still generally hold true.

      You may also want to check out the streaming media FAQ:

      Streaming Media: Frequently Asked Questions

      - Elizabeth

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