Not so long ago, XBMC added a live TV option. The catch: it depended on you having a TV tuner card on your media centre computer, and a way to get a signal. This could mean using an antenna for free, over the air TV – or it could mean paying for a cable subscription.
But what if you live in an area with bad reception, and don’t want to pay for cable? You’re not out of luck. You have several options for getting live, streaming television on XBMC, and we’ve outlined the best ones below. Whether you’re hoping to watch the World Cup or relax with some sitcoms, we’ve got you covered.
Not sure how to get started with XBMC? Check out our complete guide to XBMC.
FTV Guide: Live TV, With Listings
We’ve shown you how FilmOn can let you watch live TV online, for free. Now there’s an XBMC add-on that makes this even better. FTV Guide gives you an EPG for browsing, and watching, what’s on FilmOn (and a few other places) right now.
The British channels show up first, but if you keep scrolling you’ll also find US channels – not to mention a few from Ireland, France and the Middle East. You can remove channels you’d rather not see, and customize the order everything shows up in. For example, I moved my favorite local channel to the top as the mountains interfere with TV reception. Streams are frequently HD, though this varies from channel to channel.
You’ll need a few other add-ons installed for FTV Guide to work. These are:
- FTV, which provides access to FilmOn channels. Geoblocking is mysteriously unsupported, meaning you can watch every channel – not just those from your own country. Annoying, right?
- TVCatchup, a UK-only service for watching TV online.
- USTVNow, a subscription service intended for US peoples living abroad.
- SportsDevil, an XBMC extension for watching sports and other live television from a variety of sites.
This forum post provides a list of currently supported channels, and which plugin powers them.
OnTapp.tv: Another EPG Option
Another EPG setup for XBMC, On-Tapp.tv also uses a variety of sources to provide TV broadcasts from around the world. FTV is supported, as are a number of other XBMC addons, though you’ll need to add many of the stations yourself by pointing to the proper stream.
TV listings aren’t free, and the makers of OnTapp aren’t willing to steal them. As such, using this add-on isn’t free: you’ll need to pay for a subscription. This isn’t for the streaming itself: just the listings. Streaming comes from other add-ons, including the ones listed above.
If OnTapp looks similar to FTV Guide, that’s not a coincidence: FTV Guide was made as a response to OnTapp requiring a subscription. Of course, the subscription means the listings work consistently – something that can be inconsistent with FTV Guide.
Mashup: An Assortment Of (Pirated) TV Channels
MashUp for XBMC tries to be the ultimate XBMC add-on, combining a wide variety of video sources. You’ll find various sources for TV shows, movies and more than a few lists of live streams.
The streams offered can be confusing to browse, and vary in quality. Most of these streams are unauthorized, and not all of them work. You also can’t expect live TV listings. Still, if there’s only a couple of channels you want, you might find them here – but be aware of the legal implications in your jurisdiction.
World News Live
You’ll find a few stations including BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera English.
IPTV is a protocol used in some Eastern European countries to provide live TV services. If you live in such a country, consider using Simple ITV Client. With it you’ll be able to browse stations using XBMC’s built-in live TV functionality.
There are a few more add-ons worth mentioning here.
- iPlayer for XBMC lets you watch BBC stations live, if you’re in the UK.
- SportsDevil, mentioned above, provides live sports from a variety of (legally questionable) sites.
- Addons like NHL Gamecenter for XBMC give you access to legal streams, if you have a subscription. Search for your sport of choice, there might be a legitimate option.
Do you know of any other ways to watch live, streaming TV using XBMC? Let your fellow readers know in the comments below, okay?