Cable or satellite customers who have an Xbox One with Kinect rave about OneGuide, Xbox One’s integration with live TV services.  You can use Xbox’s interface or voice commands and the Xbox will send IR commands from the Kinect to the cable or satellite set-top box to change the channels accordingly.

But what if you’re a “cord-cutter” like me and don’t have cable or satellite?  You’ve been out of luck, having to reach for a separate remote control to control Kodi instead of being able to use Xbox OneGuide and voice controls… until now, that is!

This guide will share how you can configure your Xbox One and Kodi on your HTPC to make it so saying “Xbox Watch NBC” will make Kodi change channels to NBC.

KinkeadTech: Pioneering Home Theater Automation for You

At the time of writing this, I can say with confidence that I am the first person to figure this out and write about it on the Internet.  I’ve searched and searched for this for quite some time and have never found anybody else that has done this.

There Isn’t Any Kodi App for Xbox One (yet)

I get a lot of questions about this, so before I get into it, I want to make one thing very clearthere is no Kodi app for Xbox One.   However, I’m still hopeful that it might happen sometime in the future.  There is a process to compile the Kodi app using the UWP (Universal Windows Platform), but not sure how difficult it would be to do or if it’s even possible.

Instead, this tutorial will assume you have a Home Theater PC (HTPC) that has Kodi installed on it, and you have plugged the “HDMI out” from your HTPC into the “HDMI in” on the Xbox One (as if your HTPC is your cable box).

 

My Home Theater Setup

But before I get into it, let me give you a run-through of my setup.

I use an ASUS VivoPC as my home theater PC that runs Kodi and plugs into the Xbox One.  You can read my review of the ASUS VivoPC here.

I use Kodi (formerly XBMC) for all my TV watching.  On top of having a Sickbeard/SAB/Usenet setup to download show episodes and the availability of many video Add-ons (like my favorite, Genesis Exodus) for streaming of TV shows and movies, I also have an Argus Live TV PVR back-end installed on another computer upstairs (for best over-the-air TV antenna reception).  That computer has a USB TV tuner that I use to plug my antenna into it.  I use the Hauppauge 1191 WinTV-HVR-955Q USB TV Tuner For Notebook.

For my antenna, I use the ClearStream 1 and it works pretty well, except for a few channels due to the fact that I’m a fair distance away from the TV station broadcasters. It’s only a 40 mile range, but there are more expensive versions of the ClearStream that give you more range.

I’ve also heard that the Mohu Leaf is a great one. Here’s a cheaper generic version.

Now, with the Argus PVR add-on installed on Kodi on my main HTPC downstairs, I can watch live TV from my living room.

In addition, I have the Xbox One with Kinect.  If you don’t have one, you should get one.  In order to quickly switch between Xbox One and Kodi, I plugged my HTPC into the HDMI In on the Xbox One so I can access it via the TV app on the Xbox One.

Like I mentioned, I’ve been trying to figure out how to get the 2 systems a bit more integrated.  Finally, I got it.  Check out the video…

Video Demo of Xbox One XBMC / Kodi Live TV Integration

Ok, now let’s get started…

Xbox One OneGuide Settings

On the Xbox One, go to Settings > OneGuide.

Setup your TV line-up as “Antenna” for your zip code (I believe this is not available in all areas yet, but give it a try).

Then setup your TV, AV Receiver, and Cable Box.  The TV and AV Receiver should be self-explanatory, but the Cable Box is the tricky part.  When it asks for brand, enter “hp” and then choose to enter your own code “N1679“.

A Note About the Brand

The brand “Media Center PC” used to work, but now doesn’t work any more for some reason.  It just says that it couldn’t detect it.  I’m not sure exactly what it is trying to detect.  Maybe Xbox is finally working on implementing WMC integration so maybe it’s trying to find WMC over ethernet?  Anyway, I used “hp” because I use an HP USB MCE IR receiver.  But “hp” should work with any MCE IR receiver.

Notes About the Remote Code

If you try guided setup where the Xbox tries to toggle the power to your “cable” box, it will run through several different codes.  Here they are in order along with their results.

  • N1272: Makes the HDMI input turn off and back on every time you change channels causing the TV display to go black for several seconds… no good.
  • N2782: No issues with screen blanking, but the IR codes being sent to the computer were inconsistent and unreliable.
  • N1679: This is the one that worked the best.  The only downside is that you have to manually map the remote command codes to the keyboard emulation actions in EventGhost, but you should be using EventGhost anyway.
  • N1267: Same issue as N1272 with the screen blanking when you change channels.

EventGhost Remote to Key Mappings

Now that the Xbox One is sending IR commands to the HTPC, you need to configure EventGhost so that your HTPC knows what to do with those commands.

Note: Be sure to check out my guide on How My Xbox One Turns My Lights On and Off since that goes over how to set up EventGhost to translate IR commands from the Xbox One.

Install MCE Remote Plugin and Test It

The first thing to do is the enable the MCE Remote plugin which allows EventGhost to receive IR commands from the IR receiver.  Then, you will need to do some testing of some channel changes from the Xbox One to see what shows up in EventGhost’s log panel.

Upon a channel change, the Xbox One will send the channel number (for example 12.1) in this format…

  • MceRemote.FBFE (1)
  • MceRemote.FBFD (2)
  • MceRemote.Star (don’t have this mapped to any key)
  • MceRemote.FBFE (1)
  • MceRemote.FBF4 (Enter)

Create Macros with Triggers

Basically, you need to create a separate macro for each of the 10 numbers (0-9) as well as “Enter”.  Then, drag each IR command from the log panel (on the left) and drop it into the appropriate macro.  For instance, drag “MceRemote.FBFE” from the log panel and drop it in the “1” macro.

If your IR commands are matching mine, here’s a cheat sheet so you can enter them all without having to test using Xbox channel changes…

  • MceRemote.FBFF = 0
  • MceRemote.FBFE = 1
  • MceRemote.FBFD = 2
  • MceRemote.FBFC = 3
  • MceRemote.FBFB = 4
  • MceRemote.FBFA = 5
  • MceRemote.FBF9 = 6
  • MceRemote.FBF8 = 7
  • MceRemote.FBF7 = 8
  • MceRemote.FBF6 = 9
  • MceRemote.FBF4 = Enter

Add Keystroke Actions

Next, you need to create an Emulate Keystrokes action inside of each of the 11 macros.  Just right-click on the macro, Add Action…, open the Window category, and select Emulate Keystrokes.  Then, for the Text to type, enter {Numpad9} for the 9 macro.

Live TV PVR Back-end Channel Numbers

Since sub-channels are currently not working in the Argus PVR Backend or in Kodi, you will need to configure channels in the PVR back-end to match Xbox One OneGuide channel numbers, ignoring the periods.  For example…

  • 5.1 = 51
  • 12.1 = 121
  • 12.2 = 122
  • 51.1 = 511
  • etc…

This is the reason why you should not have the MceRemote.Star command mapped to any key.  This way, the HTPC just ignores that.

If sub-channels are working for your PVR back-end and in Kodi, the ignore this section.  Support for sub-channels was supposedly built into Kodi 14 Helix, but I’m not seeing it.  It’s probably because Argus needs to update their back-end software as well as their front-end Kodi add-on in order to enable this feature.

Kodi (XBMC) Live TV Settings

Settings > Live TV > General > Use back-end channels numbers: On

You will need to make sure this setting is turned on in order for Kodi to use the numbers that you’ve configured in your back-end.

Settings > Live TV > Playback > Start playback minimized: Off

When I was playing around with it, I noticed that if the live TV playback was minimized (meaning that it shows in a small window next to the list of channels), then the channel change commands would not actually change the channel, but instead it would just select that channel in the list making it so you have to hit ok one more time.

Settings > Live TV > Playback > Confirm channel switches by pressing OK: On

There are 2 reasons why this setting needs to be on.  First, the Xbox One is already sending IR commands that end in Enter (a.k.a. MceRemote.FBF4).  Second, since we are ignoring the “star” or period character, there is a longer gap where the period would normally be entered.  Because of this, the channel switch window will time out very quickly if you don’t have this setting turned on.

Enjoy Seamless Kodi (XBMC) Live TV Channel Surfing with Xbox One OneGuide!

Xbox One XBMC Kodi Live TV Integration

Go ahead and try it!  Use voice commands like “Xbox Watch NBC”, and watch as it tunes Kodi to that channel.  Finally a cord-cutter like yourself can enjoy this simple luxury that cable and satellite customers have been enjoying, except you’re saving money and getting more out of your automated home theater.

Work-In-Progress Areas

Navigating and Selecting in Kodi using Xbox One Controller

If you watch the video at the top of this page, you’ll see I demonstrate how to use the Xbox One controller’s triggers and bumpers to navigate around Kodi.

I did this by using EventGhost to translate the Replay, Rewind, Skip, and Next IR commands into Up, Left, Right, Down keystrokes (respectively).

The one big glaring issue with this is that I have yet to figure out what Xbox IR command I could use to emulate the “Enter” keystroke.  There doesn’t seem to be any other IR command I can trigger from the Xbox One controller besides those 4, so I may consider using the left trigger for this, but then I can only navigate right.

Single Xbox One Command to Start Kodi Live TV Playback

Another issue that prevents this from being a completely seamless experience is that I can’t use the Xbox One to start Kodi’s Live TV playback, but I can only use it to change the channels once Live TV is already playing.

Even if I could use an Xbox One command to press “e” to bring up EPG (the TV guide), the commands to change channels still don’t launch the channel.  It just selects it, and you would have to hit enter one more time.

If you primarily use Kodi just for Live TV, then you can turn on Settings > Live TV > Playback > Continue last channel on startup.  Otherwise, if you also like to play TV, movies, and music from local storage or add-ons, then that setting may not be helpful.

Got Any Tips?

If you have any tips or questions, please let me know in the comments below.  There is a lot of potential to completely streamline this Xbox One XBMC (Kodi) integration.

Get the Most out of Kodi / XBMC

On a side note, if you’re reading this, you’re probably going to be very interested in some of my newer posts that will help you get a lot more out of Kodi / XBMC.  Check them out…

Genesis is My Favorite XMBC/Kodi Video Streaming Add-on for TV & Movies

How to Merge Kodi Streaming Add-ons into the Video Library (This is AWESOME)

Keep Up with Tech

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Thanks, and enjoy!