Can someone explain the emby licensing to me?

So, a lot of people here have thrown around emby as a plex alternative when it came up. Since i’ve been with plex for 4 years now, i thought it might be a great idea too look what’s up with that.

There is an x86 QNAP package available, which is nice. Had the Server up and running within 10 Minutes, created a movie library and all is well. Honestly, even easier than Plex. Plus it’s a bit faster on my Celeron Powered NAS. Nice.

The only way i plan on watching those movies is through my Nvidia Shield. Emby has an app for that. Great. Now the “fun” part. Turns out you need some kind of subscription to watch Movies with this? I’m not quite sure how that works. I though Emby Premier was for trailers, Cover Art etc. It seems weird, that you can run the server for free but you need a subscription to actually use it.
What am i missing here?

Also, there seems to be an option to “unlock” the Android App. But, at least on Android TV, the App does not state what that entails, and it doesn’t tell me how much it would cost. Which is… sketchy?

Let me be clear, i prefer emby over Plex for the User Experience and speed so far. But the whole subscription thing and sketchy in-app purchase really turns me off.
What do i actually need to watch films on that single device?

Preface: I am not a user of either Plex or Emby

Think I’ve found the answer, the “premier” license is basically to unlock any usage outside of the web app. (see the linked feature matrix)

Why not ask your questions on the Emby Forum - where you will find similar questions and the devs will answer etc

I’m running a non premium emby, and am able to connect and stream to android devices using android app with no problems. Also use it via web interface for streaming, without any problems. Tested this 2-3 months ago.

After looking at the link zanginator posted, there are functions I can use without premium, like download/sync.

Makes me wonder if there’s some settings that has to be changed. First that comes to mind, is the user allowed to transcode on server?

Then we will have the solution for this here too, for other members to make use of. :wink:

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Had a thought, did you try Kodi for your shield? I’m running Kodi on a pi for TV, works great with library and all, via NFS. Haven’t looked into what this entails on a shield, just googled and saw it exists for the platform.

Also, a pi 4 has dual 4k 60 hz hardware support for x264 and x265, if this has any interest.

Emby recently went closed source and was forked to JellyFin.

So that’s another option.

They currently have apps on the Play Store for Android and Android TV.


Currently using Jellyfin, and can recommend it.

Not nearly as clean as Plex, but it does a decent enough job (Plus no licensing).


The OP has a few assumptions that are incorrect and will find better info on the Emby Forums not here as what i meant was rather than asking here - were most dont know the answer - go to the emby forums where you will get the answer as its the correct forum for licencing problems/questions to do with Emby.

Good to know. I’ll give it a shot.

Yes, is currently on there. And it works. Ok’ish. Playback is no issue, but the Interface is rather heavy. It’s just not as responsive as i’d want it to be. The Android Version can also be a bit buggy at times.

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Idk about the nvidia shield app specifically, but you should be able to connect directly to your server for free while connecting via their cloud account might require the premiere sub.

I bought a lifetime license years ago when it was still open source. I am thinking of switching to jellyfin, but emby has had a lot of performance and quality of life improvements since the fork so I’m on the fence about it.

Thanks so much for all the responses. So, what i found

  • Webinterface is free
  • To use the Android App, you have to unlock it. I still haven’t found out how much it is, but it’s a one time purchase through the app
  • Emby Premier adds a whole bunch of other stuff Plus it allows the use off all their apps for free, without having to unlock them.

For my Usecase, the Appunlock is completely fine, though the Coverart feature would be nice. But with one device and it being andriod, Premier just isn’t worth it.

I’ll now give jellyfin a shot, as i’d always prefer OSS. If all of this doesn’t work, Plex is still free for what i do with it and works well enough.


The android app “used to be” $4.99 to unlock and use. That was primarily for the ability to watch streams “out of network” meaning not on your local Lan.

I prefix this with saying that Emby’s pricing has changed a lot over the years. The roku app is free, not sure if that’s because they don’t have a way to charge? On mobile, the web app works fine and is just like the app.

Have you downloaded the app for your Nvidia shield and it prompts you for a login?