Adding access to popular streaming video services is a great way to expand the reach of XBMC. Read on as we show you how to add Hulu and Amazon Video to your XBMC install to enjoy easy and on-demand video streaming.
Historically, one common source of frustration for XBMC users was the wrangling required to integrate popular services like Hulu. Fortunately there are some tireless coders out there devoting their energy to helping the rest of us tweak and improve our XBMC experience. Today we’re taking a look at how to easily integrate video from Hulu and Amazon Video into your XBMC installation.
What You’ll Need
For this project you’ll need the following materials:
- A current copy of XBMC (v. 11.0 or above)
- An Amazon Prime or Hulu Plus account for access to premium material (regular Hulu streams work fine without an account).
- A copy of the Bluecop XBMC Media Repository Add-On.
You can follow along with this tutorial and gain access to all the free Hulu content with no problem. For premium Hulu content you’ll need a Hulu Plus account. The Amazon Video content is only available to Amazon Prime members and without a Prime-enabled login you won’t even be able to pull a content list, let alone watch anything.
Note: If you’re interested in adding Netflix to your XBMC experience, check out our article on the topic here.
Installing the Bluecop Repository
The secret sauce that will bring the magic of Amazon Video and Hulu to our XBMC installation is the Bluecop Add-on repository. To install the Bluecop repository you need to know how to install third-party repositories for XBMC. We’ve covered the process in-depth but here’s a quick crash course:
First, download the Bluecop ZIP file here. Second, place the ZIP file somewhere your XBMC installation can see it (network share, flash drive you can plug into the computer running XBMC, etc.) Third, navigate to System –> Add-ons –> Install from zip file. Navigate to and select the Bluecop ZIP file and click OK.
Wait a moment or two for it to install and then navigate to System –> Add-ons –> Get Add-ons. Within that sub-menu you’ll see the Bluecop Add-on Repository—as see in the screenshot above. Within the Bluecop repository is where we’ll find the add-ons we’re looking for. Go ahead and select it now.
Installing the Hulu Add-on
We’ll start with the Hulu add-on as it requires no premium subscription to access quality content (as mentioned before, both the Hulu Plus content and all the Amazon Video content requires a premium membership). Within the Bluecop repository, select Hulu.
You’ll be presented with a description menu that includes information about the add-on as well as menu options to install and configure. First, install the add-on. It will take anywhere from a few seconds to half a minute or so to finish. When it does, a notification will pop up in the lower right corner:
At this point you can jump back to the main XBMC menu to start watching Hulu content or, if you’re a Hulu Plus member, you can take a moment to plug in your username and password. You can do that by selecting the Configuration menu option within the Hulu description page.
Let’s go take Hulu for a spin. Exit back to the main XBMC screen (we’re using the default Confluence skin) and navigate to Videos. Under Videos select Add-ons. You’ll see Hulu listed as one of the potential add-ons. The first time you select it, you’ll get a message indicating that the software is free and if you paid for it you were defrauded. We don’t need to worry about that, we downloaded it for free right from the author.
The first menu you’ll see in Hulu allows you to pick from popular, recently added shows, TV, or movies. We’re curious about TV content so we’ll dive right in there. Let’s check out the TV offerings:
30 Rock? Don’t mind if we do. Notice how clean the content looks? The add-on is pulling thumbnails, artwork, and metadata for the streaming shows in the same fashion XBMC pulls down the data for locally stored content.
Since we don’t have a premium Hulu account, we’re only seeing content available to all Hulu users. No complaints here, it’s still quite a bit of free content. Let’s start watching:
Success! The content streams beautifully, feels just like we’re watching any other content on XBMC. Now let’s move on to installing the add-on for Amazon Video.
Installing the Amazon Add-on
To install the Amazon Video add-on, repeat the same installation steps you followed to install the Hulu add-on. Visit System –> Add-ons –> Get Add-ons, and select Bluecop Add-on Repository. Within the sub-menu you’ll see Amazon.
Select and install the Amazon add-on. Unlike the Hulu add-on you can’t just hop back to the Video menu and start watching the content. You’ll need to select the Configure menu and plug in the Amazon credentials of an Amazon account that has Prime enabled (only Prime members have access to the Amazon Video library).
Once you’ve plugged in your credentials, however, it’s smooth sailing. Jump back to the main XBMC menu, select Video –> Add-ons –> Amazon. Much like the Hulu menu you can pick from movies, television, your library, and you can search the videos.
We’re going to explore the television content again:
Doctor Who? Don’t mind if we do. Not only is there entire episodes of Doctor Who in HD but there’s lots of season extras too—nice! Let’s fire up the first episode of season six:
Looks good to us; nice and crisp HD playback with no stuttering.
Now that we have both the Hulu and Amazon add-on installed, let’s do one last thing to make it even easier to access them.
Adding Shortcuts To The Main Screen
XBMC Eden supports handy front-screen shortcuts. Rather than forcing you to navigate through sub-menus you can easily add them right to the main navigation screen.
To do so, visit System –> Settings –> Skin. Under the Skin menu you’ll find the Add-on Shortcuts sub-menu. There you can add short cuts to add-ons for most of the major entries on the main screen. We’re interested in the Videos Submenu. If you’ve never used this feature before, you’ll see five empty slots. Click on one to pick a video add-on.
We added shortcuts for Amazon, Hulu, and YouTube (included with XBMC by default). Now, as seen in the screenshot at the beginning of this sub-section, we can easily hop into all three video services right from the main page. Enjoying streaming media on XBMC has never been easier!
Have an XBMC tip, trick, or add-on to share? Sound off in the comments below and help your fellow readers supercharge their XBMC experience.
Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on Google+ if you'd like.
- Published 05/8/12