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18 Best Jellyfin Alternatives in 2024: Top Media Server Software

April 1, 2024

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Are you looking for alternatives to Jellyfin media server software? You’ve come to the right place. As the CEO and founder of SmartTVs.com, I’ve personally tested over 30 different media streaming solutions to find the best options.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll compare the top 18 Jellyfin competitors across key factors like features, pros, cons, pricing, and more. Whether you’re a cord-cutter wanting to watch live TV or an AV enthusiast building a custom home theater PC, you’ll discover the ideal solution for your needs.

What is Jellyfin?

Jellyfin is a free, open source media server that lets you organize and stream your personal media collection. Some of its key benefits include:

  • Completely free with no paid plans
  • Open source code enables community contributions
  • Highly customizable via plugins
  • Offers hardware accelerated streaming

For more details, check out our in-depth Jellyfin review covering all the nuances.

However, Jellyfin lacks certain advanced features power users crave. It also doesn’t provide the same level of polish or device compatibility as some paid competitors. That’s where these best Jellyfin alternatives come in.

Why Consider Jellyfin Alternatives?

While Jellyfin excels as a free, open source option, other media servers offer compelling enhancements like:

  • Smoother playback and transcoding
  • Official apps for more devices
  • Live TV and DVR functionality
  • Audiophile grade music streaming
  • Automatic metadata fetching
  • Easier setup and configuration

Depending on your specific needs, switching to a Jellyfin alternative could provide a more tailored experience. However, it’s important to compare the nuances before committing to one.

Key Factors When Comparing Media Servers

Here are the most important considerations when choosing media server software:

  • Supported devices and platforms
  • Ease of setup and use
  • Breadth of video/audio format compatibility
  • Customization through plugins and add-ons
  • Live TV and DVR capabilities
  • Offline downloading and syncing
  • Metadata fetching and library organization
  • Transcoding and playback performance
  • Multi-user access with parental controls
  • Price and monetization model

Keep these factors in mind as we dive into the details of each top Jellyfin alternative.

Top Jellyfin Alternatives

1. Plex

Plex Media Server

Plex is the most popular premium media server on the market. It provides an incredibly polished interface and streaming experience across every imaginable device.

Features

  • Live TV & DVR support
  • Automatic poster/metadata matching
  • Mobile syncing for offline access
  • Robust parental controls
  • Cloud storage and camera upload

Pros

  • Sleek, intuitive apps for all platforms
  • Smooth playback of all file types
  • Over-the-air content like Podcasts included
  • Frequent updates from full-time team

Cons

  • Premium features require Plex Pass subscription
  • Less customization than Jellyfin

Pricing

Plex is free to use for base functionality. Plex Pass, which unlocks all features, costs $4.99/month, $39.99/year or $119.99 for a lifetime license.

For more comparisons, see our Plex vs Jellyfin and Plex review articles.

2. Emby

Emby For Roku

Emby is another robust freemium alternative extremely popular with cord-cutters. It matches Plex closely on features while still enabling Jellyfin-level customization.

Features

  • Excellent Live TV and DVR
  • Integrates with Kodi for home theater
  • Plays most video and audio formats
  • Extends with community plugins
  • Optimizes for music collections

Pros

  • Feature-packed out of the box
  • Frequent updates from active team
  • Rich parental management tools
  • More customizable than Plex

Cons

  • Best features limited to paid Emby Premiere
  • Controversial switch from open source model

Pricing

Emby has a free tier with core functionality. Emby Premiere, required for mobile apps, DVR and more, costs $4.99/month, $54/year or $119 for a lifetime pass.

3. Kodi

Kodi

Kodi, formerly known as XBMC, is one of the original free open source media centers. It acts as an all-in-one entertainment hub rather than client/server setup.

Features

  • Extremely versatile format support
  • Customizable via skins and add-ons
  • Massive library of plugins for content
  • Rips DVDs and CDs directly
  • Integrates game emulators

Pros

  • 100% free and open source
  • Mature platform with 20 year history
  • Tailored for home theater enthusiasts
  • Unique features like PVR and weather

Cons

  • Steep learning curve for novices
  • Complex setup requiring lots of tinkering

Pricing

Kodi is completely free to use. Development relies on voluntary donations.

Consider reading our Kodi reviews, Kodi alternatives and Kodi vs Jellyfin comparisons for more insights.

4. Stremio

Stremio

Stremio is a modern media center focused on streaming content aggregation. It unifies multiple video sources into one sleek interface.

Features

  • Combines Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu & more
  • Easy one-click streaming via add-ons
  • Alerts for new episodes/content
  • Casting to TVs and devices
  • Personalization through themes

Pros

  • Unifies web streaming in one app
  • Super easy for non-technical users
  • Supports many video formats
  • Available on all major platforms

Cons

  • Lacks advanced media server features
  • No live TV or DVR functionality

Pricing

Stremio is free to use. Some individual add-ons require subscriptions or purchases.

We’ve also compared other options in our Stremio alternatives article.

5. Channels

Channels

Channels is the ultimate solution to watch live TV and record shows on any device. It turns HDHomeRun tuners into full-fledged media servers.

Features

  • Watch and record over-the-air TV
  • Cloud DVR with unlimited storage
  • Automatic commercial skipping
  • Syncs seamlessly across devices
  • Slick apps for Apple TV, Fire TV & more

Pros

  • All-in-one cable replacement
  • Reliable and wife-friendly
  • Clean interface optimized for TV
  • Frequent deals and bundles

Cons

  • Requires separate HDHomeRun tuner
  • Doesn’t handle music or personal media

Pricing

Channels offers a free tier with limited functionality. Their premium subscription with full DVR capabilities and apps costs $8/month or $80/year.

6. Mezzmo

Mezzmo

Mezzmo, from Conceiva, is an affordable DLNA media streamer built for reliability. It excels at streaming to gaming consoles.

Features

  • Optimized for Xbox 360 and Xbox One
  • Dynamic video transcoding
  • Transparent DLNA device discovery
  • Gapless audio playback
  • DVD and ISO support

Pros

  • Rock solid DLNA streaming
  • Easy-to-use Windows interface
  • Automatically fetches movie artwork
  • Ideal for console-based setups

Cons

  • No Mac or Linux server options
  • Limited metadata and library features

Pricing

Mezzmo offers a free version for up to 3 streaming devices. Mezzmo Pro, for unlimited devices, costs a one-time fee of $39.99.

Other Notable Jellyfin Alternatives

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best free Jellyfin alternative?

Kodi is the top free and open source alternative to Jellyfin. It provides much of the same functionality through a mature, customizable platform.

What is the easiest media server to use?

Plex provides the most intuitive and user-friendly media server experience. Setup is straightforward and polished apps are available on all devices.

What media server works best with Roku?

Plex and Emby offer the most robust Roku apps and experiences. They are regularly updated and mirror functionality from other platforms.

What is the best option for cord-cutters?

Channels is the ultimate media server for cord-cutters. It integrates with TV tuners to provide cable-like live TV and DVR functionality at a fraction of the cost.

What media server has the most powerful customization?

Kodi enables nearly infinite customization of the media center experience. Jellyfin also supports advanced customization through plugins, but Kodi gets the edge.

Key Takeaways

  • Plex is the most polished and easy to use paid server
  • Emby provides a robust platform balancing features and customization
  • Kodi enables infinite flexibility for home theater enthusiasts
  • Channels revolutionizes over-the-air TV viewing and recording
  • Jellyfin remains a compelling free and open source option
  • The ideal choice depends on your specific device, format, and feature needs

Conclusion

With the sheer number of media server options available, Jellyfin isn’t always the optimal choice. Plex and Emby provide more refined, user-friendly experiences for casual users. Kodi enables power user customization. And Channels or MediaPortal specialize in live TV and DVR.

However, Jellyfin’s open source foundation keeps it a competitive free option, especially for tinkerers. The best alternative depends on your priorities – you can’t go wrong thoroughly comparing the nuances before committing.

By understanding the pros, cons, and differences of these top media servers, you can choose the perfect solution for your needs. Feel free to reach out for personalized recommendations based on your setup!