When you cut the cord, you don't just trade cable TV for a streaming service like Netflix – you trade it for everything in entertainment besides cable. That means watching Netflix, sure, but it also means streaming content from other services, enjoying local content like DVD rips and digital copies, and organizing everything you watch in entirely new ways.

That's made the role of the media server application a very important one in the cord cutting world. And, appropriately, the market is now full of great media server options. Among those is Serviio, a DLNA media server that is fighting to carve out a niche in a crowded market. So what is Serviio? Here's everything you need to know.

What Is Serviio?

Serviio is a media server application. It's designed to help you take local content (files on your computer) and make it available on multiple devices on your network. Serviio will also help you organize that content and streaming content in a single app. The paid version of Serviio will extend the reach of your server beyond your local network.

How It Works

Like its competitors, Serviio operates by having you set up its server application on one main device. From there, you can add folders of content (including videos, audio files, and images) and make them available to any DLNA-compatible device.

Serviio - Status
That's the server app in the screenshot above. In the screenshot, the app is showing me DLNA-compatible devices on my local network. The device it has spotted can stream the folders I share via the server.


Unlike much of its competition, Serviio lets you set up your media server in an app, rather than through an online interface. It's a pretty user-friendly solution – the interface is pretty sharp and elegant, and it's well-branded in a way that's reminiscent of Plex.

Streaming Videos

Serviio's server-side app allows you to set up RSS feeds and live streams
Serviio's server-side app allows you to set up RSS feeds and live streams

Serviio isn't exclusively for organizing local content and making it available on multiple devices. It's also for streaming online videos – though its support for streaming video is a little less robust than what you'd get from some competitors. For Serviio, online video support is limited to RSS feeds and specific video web addresses. That's makes Serviio good for keeping up with video blogs or message boards. On the flip side, it won't help people looking for Netflix support or “channels” from major networks.

No Apps

Like fellow DLNA server Universal Media Server (and unlike Plex), Serviio doesn't have its own app for client devices. You'll just use the Serviio app on the device you want the server on, not on the devices you want to watch on. You can access the shared files on any DLNA-compatible device.

Getting What You Pay For

Like several of its competitors, Serviio is a free program that offers increased functionality to users who are willing to spring for the paid version. You can see a complete breakdown of the free vs. “Pro” version on Serviio's website, but the most notable paid features include support for outside your local network, an Android app, and a web player.

How Serviio Fits Into the Media Server Market

As we mentioned in the introduction, Serviio isn't alone in the media server business space. Far from it, in fact! The crowded media server market includes Plex and Emby, among other services. This isn't a review, so we won't get too into comparing Serviio to these other apps, but we are going to take a quick look at where Serviio is trying to carve out its niche.

Of all its competitors, Serviio has the most in common with Universal Media Server. Both apps use DLNA and have broad cross-platform support because of it. Serviio's interface is a little more aesthetically pleasing.

Compared to apps like Plex and PlayOn, Serviio is very short on plugins and channels. Serviio is focused on streaming local content, not on making it easier to access services like Netflix or content from major network websites. Serviio can stream from RSS feeds, but it doesn't really have an answer for competitor features like Plex's channels or Kodi's add-ons.

Serviio's pay model is very similar to several of its competitors, including Plex and Emby. Like those services, Serviio offers a free version and a more robust version. Even the specific features that are unlocked – like support outside of your local network – are the same. See our full review of Serviio here.

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