Finally an Easy Way to Watch Live TV in XBMC Media Center

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Dec 18th, 2011
Finally an Easy Way to Watch Live TV in XBMC Media Center

Now there is finally an easy way to watch live TV in XBMC media center. In this start to finish guide, you will learn how to get live TV working on XBMC media center.

I am using OpenELEC (Linux / Raspberry Pi) and Raspbmc (Raspberry Pi) operating systems in this article, but once you have setup the backend TV server, you can watch live TV on any operating system or media center that supports Home TV Streaming Protocol (HTSP).

This article may look like it is for advanced users only, but don’t be intimidated, the setup is easy for beginners, too.

1. Install Tvheadend service

The great thing with OpenELEC and Raspbmc is that they have a pre-installed tvheadend client service. Tvheadend is a TV streaming server for Linux which can be installed on your HTPC or to a separate backend server located in another room on your home network.

If you are using OpenELEC, just install the hts-tvheadend client from the system menu in XBMC (System – Add-ons – Get Add-ons – OpenELEC.tv Mediacenter OS Add-ons – Services – hts-tvheadend). You’ll need to reboot the system to start the tvheadend add-on. The Raspbmc has also the tvheadend server built-in, so you can just turn it on by enabling the tvheadend service.

2. Configure Tvheadend service

Next, we will configure the tvheadend backend server. As OpenELEC and Raspbmc do not include a web-browser, you will need to use a separate computer such as your laptop in your home network.

Check HTPC’s IP address

Before you can connect to the backend server, you will need to know your HTPC’s IP address. You can check it from here: (System – Hardware – Summary – IP address (e.g. 192.168.1.38).

Login to tvheadend with web-browser

Login to Tvheadend server on another computer by typing the following URL in your web-browser: http://your_HTPC_IP_address:9981 (e.g. http://192.168.1.38:9981).

You will be greeted with a screen that looks something like the screenshot below.

Now, we will configure your TV tuner.

  1. Click configuration
  2. Click TV adapters
  3. Select TV adapter
  4. Enable “Autodetect muxes” and “Idle scanning”
  5. Click “Add DVB Network by Location”
  6. Wait for “Muxes awaiting initial scan” to become 0
  7. Then click “Map DVB services to channels”

Tvheadend will now start to detect multiplexes and services. Wait for “Muxes awaiting initial scan” to become 0.
Then click “Map DVB Services to channels”. TVheadend will now try to open each channel and will add each channel that can be opened.

If you are not find your DVB network location, you need to add muxes manually. You will need to search your local TV provider’s multiplex information from the Internet and then go to Configuration > TV Adapters > Multiplexes > Add mux(es) manually. Insert the channel frequency, symbol rate and constellation according to your local TV provider’s information.

In principle these steps should be enough, but if you encounter any issues, please refer to tvheadend’s full user manual here.

3. Add DVB stream to XBMC

There are couple of options to add the live TV stream to your XBMC. The easiest way with OpenELEC is to add tvheadend as a source. The more advanced way is to install a custom XBMC PVR distribution such as OpenElec PVR, which has built-in PVR features.

Option 1: Add source

First go to Videos menu and select “Add Source”.

Type the htsp://your_HTPC_IP_address:9982 (e.g. htsp://192.168.1.38:9982) as shown in the screenshot below.

Go to the new source you just created (e.g. HTS Tvheadend client).

Press C-key in “Live channels” folder and select “Add to favorites”. Then, go to System – Skin – Favourites Shortcuts – Enable Favorite Button 1.

Add button label and favourite path as follows:

  • Button Label: Live TV
  • Favourite Path: Live Channels

Option 2: Use PVR version (Frodo 12)

If you are using OpenElec PVR version or Raspbmc, go to System > Add-ons > Installed Add-ons > PVR clients > Tvheadend HTSP Client to install the tvheadend fronted client.

When using e.g. Confluence skin, go to System > Live TV > General > Enabled to make the live TV shortcut visible in the main menu.

That’s it!

Enjoy your live TV with OpenELEC XBMC by selecting the Live TV from the main menu. You’ll see a list of channels as configured in the tvheadend backend server.

Please note that this article was made with the standard install of OpenELEC. Stay tuned for more advanced guide on installing the XBMC-PVR add-on.

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