Where Plex Gets Movie Ratings (and Why You Should Tweak Things)
If you’ve taken a look at the star ratings of the movies in your Plex library, you may have noticed something a little peculiar: there’s a remarkable number of 3/5 star movies. In fact, except for exceptionally well-known and loved movies (like The Godfather) or really awful movies, very few movies have a 5 star or 1 star rating. What’s the deal?
The deal is that Plex movie media agent, the little bit of software that pulls metadata about your movies from internet database, uses The Movie Database by default.
While we love The Movie Database, and it’s great for getting most metadata (like artwork and direction/cast information), the rating side of things simply isn’t as well developed the ratings on sites like IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes. This is how you end up with so many movies in Plex that have 3/5 stars—many of the rated movies on The Movie Database only have a few reviews and average 5-6 out of 10, which translates to 3/5 in the Plex interface.
If you want more accurate ratings pulled from a broader pool of movie reviewers, there are two ways you can go about it. You can take the easy route and tweak the existing Plex Movies scraper, or you can take the (very slightly) harder route and install a totally new scraper that pulls ratings from IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes by way of The Open Movie Database.
Why choose one over the other? While tweaking the Plex scraper works fine now, historically Plex has had a thorny relationship with IMDb, because IMDb has argued that Plex’s use of the ratings is commercial use (even though the rating data is downloaded by individuals at home and not the actual Plex company). We’re outlining both methods here so that, should the simple method fail in the future before of pressure put on Plex by either IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes, you can still pull rankings from those sites into your Plex ecosystem.
Option One: Adjusting the Default Scraper to Use New Sources
To adjust the default ratings scraper on your Plex Media Server, open the web-based interface for your server and navigate to Settings > Server > Agents. Within the Agents menu, select “Movies” and then “Plex Movie”. Next to the entry for “Plex Movie” within the list of scrapers, click on the settings icon, as seen below.
Scroll down until you see “Ratings Source” in the settings menu and then select, from the drop down menu, which ratings source you would like to use.
Once you’ve made the change, click “Save” at the bottom of the menu. Jump ahead to the last section of this article entitled “How to Refresh Your Metadata” to finish the process.
Option Two: Adding in the New Scraper for Third Party Access
Thanks to the work of Plex community members and the plugin system, we can easily pop a new scraper right into our Plex Media Server to expand upon or outright replace the default moving rankings.
First things first, you need to grab the plugin file here. Save the master.zip file to your computer. Extract the zip file, inside you will find a folder labeled “OpenMovieDatabase.bundle-master”. Rename that folder to “OpenMovieDatabase.bundle”. This renamed folder is the whole plugin, part and parcel, so don’t muck around with anything inside.
With the plugin folder in hand, simply drop it into the Plex plugin directory. Here’s where you’ll find that directory on various operating systems:
%LOCALAPPDATA%\Plex Media Server\Plug-ins\
~/Library/Application Support/Plex Media Server/Plug-ins
$PLEX_HOME/Library/Application Support/Plex Media Server/Plug-ins
- FreeNAS Jail:
Copy the whole folder “OpenMovieDatabase.bundle” into that directory. On Linux, FreeNAS, and other operating systems with stricter permission systems, you may need to grant access to folder for the user “plex” by using an appropriate permissions command on the folder, e.g.
chown -R plex:plex OpenMovieDatabase.bundle .
Once you’ve copied the file over, restart your Plex Media server by shutting down the Plex application (if you’re on Windows or macOS) or issuing the command
sudo service plexmedia server restart if you’re on a Linux or unix-like system.
After the restart, open up the web interface for your Plex Media Server and navigate to Settings > Server > Agents. Within the Agents menu, select Movies and then The Movie Database. You’ll see a list of available agents, including our freshly added “Open Movie Database” agent. Before you do anything else, click on the gear on the right hand side of the Open Movie Database entry.
The settings menu for the plugin is a lengthy one with toggles for every bit of metadata that can be pulled from the Open Movie Database. It is at your discretion whether you want to pull down general data (like release dates, plot summaries, etc.) in addition to the IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes ratings. Check or uncheck the general metadata entries as you see fit. If you like the way things are setup in Plex, except for the ratings, then you can play it safe and uncheck everything.
The part we care about is all the way down at the bottom, so scroll down until you see the entry for “Rating”. Here you want to check “Rating”, selecting which ratings you want IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes, and optionally, you can have the plugin write the rating to the summary. In the screenshot below, you can see we’ve opted for Rotten Tomatoes with the summary feature.
Why would you want to have the rating added to the summary when you already have the star system? Precision: the value written to the summary slot won’t be the rounded-to-the-nearest-star value, but the actual points or percentage from the service you selected. When you’ve decided for or against that feature, be sure to click “Save”.
Next, check the entry for “Open Movie Database” in the list of agents and drag it up above the other databases (if you have local media assets enabled, you can leave that at that top like we did).
At this point, you’re read to refresh your metadata and enjoy the new ratings.
How to Refresh Your Metadata to Display New Ratings
Even if you’ve previously set up your Plex library to automatically update, you still need to perform a library refresh, as Plex will not scrape updated data for existing entries (the old Open Movie Database ratings will not be overwritten by library updates even though we’ve changed the scraper settings).
To force an update simply open up the main interface of your Plex library in your web browser and click on the “…” menu icon next to your Movie library (if you have multiple movie libraries, you will need to repeat this step for all of them). Within the expanded menu, select “Refresh All” to rerun the scraper on your movies.
Once the refresh is complete all your movies will now have updated ratings from the rating source of your choice.
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