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How to use Emby to watch live TV

Unlike Plex, which currently only offers a DVR service, Emby also offers the ability to watch your TV live, as well as record it. That on its own might be enough to swing your decision over which you choose to go with. However, setting up live TV in Emby requires a bit of an effort on your part. There are two parts to the process, and we'll walk you both below.

Download Emby Server for Windows

How to import TV channels

You'll need to have some form of way to get channels into Emby in the first place, and for that we use the excellent HDHomeRun Connect (opens in new tab). Emby supports M3U tuners and "others," so your mileage may vary a little. But HDHomeRun is well supported.

How to set up and use a HDHomeRun tuner

Emby

  1. Load up your Emby server dashboard.
  2. Click live TV in the sidebar.
  3. Click the add button next to tuner devices.
  4. Either select your tuner type manually or click detect my devices.
  5. Check the options for favorite channels and hardware transcoding if you wish and if your device supports them.

It's also important to remember that DRM protected channels won't be imported.

Emby

That's the first stage. You now have TV coming into your Emby server, but it has no guide, so all you have is channels without knowing what's actually on them. The second part of the setup process is where you'll sort this out.

How to add TV guide data

You need to get hold of a file from somewhere online that provides the data you need. Emby supports a couple of popular options out of the box: Schedules Direct (paid) and XML TV (free). There is also an "other" option, if you have your own source. For the purposes of this guide (and because I'm based in the UK), we used XML TV.

This involves going to the XML TV website and selecting a URL that corresponds with the desired feed for TV guide data. There are a few to choose from, so make sure you get the right one. Once you've found it, copy the URL next to it and follow these steps:

  1. Go back to live TV on your Emby dashboard.
  2. Click the add button next to guide providers.
  3. Select the option best suited to your data, in this case XML TV.
  4. In the options (shown above) paste your URL into the top box.
  5. Click save.

You should now, after a short loading period, have a fully populated TV guide. You can browse and find your favorite shows with ease and also set them to record using the Emby DVR, if you've set that up.

How to set up Emby DVR

That's all there is to it. It's a bit of a process, but once you're up and running it'll allow you to use Emby in conjunction with its companion apps on your favorite devices to watch live TV whenever you want.

Download Emby Theater from the Windows Store (opens in new tab)

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

9 Comments
  • So, Emby actually connects directly to a PC TV card without the need for server software from the card manufacturer like Kodi requires? Looks a bit like it in this article. I will try it out on Monday, really hoping finally there's a good TV tuner package to replace Media Centre.
  • It works quite well.  I've been using it with an HD homerun network tuner.  Emby has gotten us extremely close to completely ditching directv.
  • Hmmm, problem is a HD Homerun unit is not a PC TV tuner. It is a network tuner. That's not being picky, that's a key difference. You see, a network tuner effectively has a built in network streaming server and works very differently, from the perspective of a PC, to a standard PC TV tuner card or dongle. Using an HD PC tuner dongle, with standard drivers, I wonder if this package can use such without resorting to leaning on manufacturer provided TV server software (such as PCTV's 'lovely' [read 'awful'] Broadway broadcasting software). Some of these packages, like Kodi, will only pick up a served network TV feed, but software like Media Centre actually uses a TV card directly without needing a server. That's what us Media Centre ex pats are missing. Also, sort of disappointed this Emby doesn't pick up the TV guide from the broadcast properly, needing to download third party feeds from the web to compensate. Is there no way to use the OTA broadcast programme guide like other software (and Media Centre) does? Heck, even a cheap TV set top box can do that. Not a good sign, but I'm still hopeful.
  • HDHomeRun gets the TV guide data online, too. Assume it's easier to cater for a wider audience perhaps. In my case I was more annoyed that Emby can't use the data from HDHomeRun
  • We are still using our Windows Media Center HTPC set up with extenders to serve the whole house. I just purchased an OTA HDHomeRun to add Over The Air reception to the WMC.
    Glad to see others improving. I'll want one with "all" the Windows Media center features, plus more, some day.
    Best Wishes
  • What about Cetam TV turners?
  • Ooops Cetan?
  • Yes, our whole house Windows Media Center HTPC has two Ceton tuners. They work with the Cable M cards to access the DRM (Digital Rights Management) on our Comcast cable TV.
    Best Wishes
  • I am trying to decide if i should use Plex or Emby. I do like some of the features emby offers and the premium is less than plex. Does anyone one if there is a way to setup a Hauppauage WinTV-HVR-1255 and WinTV-HVR-2250 in emby?