Wednesday, April 25, 2012

6. Watch TV with iTunes on your Media Center

  • In my ongoing quest to find an alternative to cable TV, Apple iTunes has turned out to be an excellent source for downloading TV shows and audio/video podcasts and watching them on our large-screen TV. 
  • In spite of its name, iTunes is not just about downloading music, you can also find plenty of free and paid-for audio and video programming there. 
  • Best of all there are literally thousands of Podcasts to choose from, and you can subscribe to most of them free. Once the latest one appears on iTunes it will download to your PC automatically. 
  • As long as they are not DRM protected (and most podcasts are not) you can link Media Center's Media Library to point to the appropriate folders where iTunes downloads its TV shows, Podcasts, and music. Now sit back and watch or listen to your favorite shows at your convenience.
  • In order to subscribe to free iTunes podcasts you will need an itunes account. If you don't already have one, there is a way to set up a free account without the need for a credit card. To find out how, go to this link:

The following series of images will give you a better idea:

You can download iTunes software from: 

You May already have an Itunes account, or you can create a free account without the need for a credit card. To find out how, go to this link: 

In spite of its name, iTunes is not just about downloading music, you can also find lots of free audio and video programming there. You can find a diverse selection of TV show episodes, many are sneak previews, but full length features are available. 

Best of all, there are literally 1000s of free Podcasts available from all over the world on a variety of subjects. 

Subscribe to Podcasts of your choice by clicking on the Subscribe Free button. The latest podcast in that series will download automatically as it becomes available. You can then watch or listen to it at your convenience.

Be aware that iTunes videos are not in streaming form - you have to wait for each download to complete before you can watch it.

iTunes Videos and Podcasts are downloaded to the folders shown in the path above. Note that TV shows are frequently (but not always) DRM (Digital Rights Management) protected and must be played within the iTunes application. However, Podcasts are generally not DRM protected and can be played within Windows Media Center (see below).

To add iTunes Podcasts and TV Shows to Media Center, you must first point to the folders where iTunes downloads videos and podcasts. In order to do this go to Media Center's Media Library and select the appropriate folders using the directory structure shown in the above two images.  

Once your chosen iTunes programs finish downloading, they will automatically appear in the "TV Shows" listing within Media Center Videos. Note: iTunes downloads will play in Windows Media Center only if they are not DRM (copyright) protected; otherwise you will need to open the iTunes application to run them.

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