Enabling WMC Live TV within Kodi

Kodi has added an open PVR framework that can be used with multiple backends like MythTV, NextPVR, MediaPortal, and ArgusTV. Until some talented folks got together on the forums, WMC did not exist as “backend” server which was a huge negative WMC is largely regarded as the best PVR available (even still today after its been abandoned).  WMC would only represent a backend if you had WMC extenders (like the X360 or Echo). The other PVR applications listed would have a server application that can be ran and fed to multiple clients. The benefit of the server-client model over the extender model is that you have complete control over your clients. You can use anything from a raspberry-pi to an Intel Xeon cpu with dual Titan GPUs. WMC extenders traditionally worked quite well if you intended to extend music and DVR, but if you had a large blu-ray collection the majority of them would not be playable on your extenders without first being compressed.

Along came ServerWMC, which is a great app primarily developed by krustyreturns (and a couple others) to allow you to use your WMC HTPC as a backend Kodi PVR server. To begin, this does not work for copy-once material. For Comcast, Verizon Fios, Charter, and some other cable providers the majority of your cable subscription will be copy-free. HBO, Cinemax, Starz, and Encore will NOT be copy-free (on any provider) so if those channels are of importance then this may not be the method you want to use. Though your typical HD cable channels like USAHD, ESPNHD, ComedyCentralHD, etc will work just fine on Comcast, Fios, and Charter (maybe others as well)

Before you begin, I would recommend following this guide for adding channel logos to WMC since ServerWMC will not only pass along your guide information from WMC, but these channel logos as well

Also, I like having only the channels I subscribe to show up, so go to WMC -> Settings -> TV -> Guide -> Edit Channels

When your WMC guide is all setup, go to the ServerWMC downloads page and download the latest “Install_ServerWMC-####.zip”

Once you’ve downloaded the zip file, you’ll see the only contents are a folder containing a single msi installer package named “Installer_ServerWMC.msi”

Run this installer as administrator (must be on the same HTPC as you plan to use as your WMC TV server)

Afterwards, open ServerWMC from the start menu (in the screenshots below, I’ll take you through all the pertinent settings options)

On first run only, windows will ask you to make a firewall exception for ServerWMC. Go ahead and allow this

The first page that opens is just a status page. All you should be looking for here is “WMC database: Opened”

On the next tab “General” I have all of the following options checked (note: as I run this on my 24/7 server, the suspend/sleep options do not matter to me. If that is of interest to you, there are power saving options you need to adjust in your XBMC clients to enable waking the backend server)

In the next tab “Folders” you will need to enter the UNC path of your WMC Recorded TV folder. If it is not shared, you will need to go through Windows Explorer to the drive that contains your “Recorded TV” folder. Right click the folder and choose “Share With” then pick your preference. You can share with your homegroup, or you can “choose specific people” then type “Everyone” and click add. I have my shares open to my network without passwords to allow easier sharing between my different devices (windows, linux, osx, android, etc) but if you choose homegroup sharing you will need to enter the username and password of the ServerWMC machine for any non-windows devices running Kodi on your network.

The “Display Options,” “Live TV,” and “Recordings” tabs I leave at default

On the Channels tab, I uncheck the “Hide encrypted channels” box because I use WMC with Comcast HD cable and all of my channels are encrypted. If using a cablecard tuner, all of the channels are encrypted (though still viewable as explained above unless they are marked copy-once)

On the Record tab, I actually use “WMC padding” though the application gives you great customization options for padding your default record options

Now we get to configuring Kodi. Note on the ServerWMC downloads page there were manual client install options, well you can ignore those as they are not necessary. Up to date clients should already have been downloaded with the latest versions of Kodi. What you need to do is navigate from within Kodi to System->Add-Ons->Disabled Add-Ons ->PVR Add-ons

Find the ServerWMC add-on (should be at the bottom of the list)

Before choosing enable, first choose “Configure”

Now add the IP address of your ServerWMC machine (if the same machine as ServerWMC you can leave this at the default 127.0.0.1)

Now choose enable

Now either using the back key on your remote, backspace, or esc “back” your way out of the add-ons area to the main “settings” menu and scroll down to the section labeled “Live TV”

In the General tab of Live TV settings, I enable all three options (synchronize channel groups with backend, always use backend channel order, use backend channel numbers)

I leave the other settings at default. Now click “enable” on the general tab to enable Live TV. If everything is successful you should see an EPG loading popup in the top-right of your screen like this

Now back your way out to the main menu and notice a “Live TV” area is present (and it should show your next scheduled recording if it found your backend).

Notice your submenu options – channels, EPG, recordings, and timer. If you select “Live TV” from the main menu instead of a submenu option, you will be taken to the TV Channels section which looks like this

Note that when you select a channel, playback will begin in the minimized window. If you want to channel surf, this is probably the best area for that since you can see both the guide and what you have currently playing.

If you want a currently playing channel to display fullscreen, then select (enter or OK on your remote) the same channel that is currently playing from the channels list

Also take note of the sidebar in the menu (if you are unfamiliar with Kodi). Press the left arrow on your keyboard or remote to open the sidebar and you’ll see easy shortcuts to your recordings, channels list, and EPG

Choose recordings and see all of your WMC recordings ready to playback (I don’t have them grouped by folders for this screenshot)

Finally let’s take a look at the EPG

Your WMC remote should be completely recognized and functional out of the box in Kodi.  The record button will work to schedule a recording in the Kodi EPG, but in the case that you are mapping your own keys the WMC shortuct “Ctrl+R” will give you good overall compatibility if you ever switch out of Kodi. Also, if you move ahead in the program guide and press enter (OK) you will be prompted with a dialog where you can easily schedule your recording.

One thing I would call a “quirk” about the Kodi EPG (though it is made intentionally) is that pressing a current-in progress section of the guide opens a pop-up window just as a future programming area of the guide would. I think this is unnecessary, but none-the-less it is there. It will ask if you want to “switch,” “record,” or “ok.” Ok is imaginative, but switch and record should be explanatory. Overall, I prefer to schedule recordings from the guide but channel surf from the “TV-Channels” view

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Assassin-Ben

www.AssassinHTPC.com

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