XBMC is slowly becoming, if not already, the top cross-platform media center application. In post I will share 3 ways to watch ESPN online for free on XBMC. With the work on the next release (13 – Gotham) already in progress, the team now has released XBMC for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS and more platforms. Now you can watch ESPN online on any of these devices, with or without ESPN subscription, if you have XBMC installed on these devices. Explaining how to install XBMC on these devices is beyond the scope of this post but Linux installation is already covered pretty well here. We have also described how to watch Amazon Prime videos on XBMC. Now let us look at how to watch ESPN online for free on XMBC. [Read: 5 Websites to watch College Football online for free]
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Watch ESPN Online on XBMC
You can watch ESPN online on XBMC through 3 different plugins shown in the below picture. Remember that some require an ESPN subscription with your cable/satellite company and some are free streams from internet sources.
If you do not know how to install XBMC addons and configure them then please go ahead and familiarize yourself with these topics before you proceed. [Read: Free Movies and TV shows bittorrent streaming with Popcorn Time]
1. ESPN Video Addon
The ESPN video addon basically collects all the videos available on ESPN website and provides you a list to choose from. You can install this addon from the Addon Manager from within XBMC by going to:
Get Addons ->
XBMC.org Addons ->
Video Addons ->
ESPN Video. After installation there is basically no configuration needed. The only thing you might want to change is the video quality depending on your internet speed. The default and the maximum is 720p.
After installation and configuration, go to Videos and then Addons, and you should now see ESPN Video plugin listed. Open the plugin and it should provide you a list of latest videos from ESPN. You can watch videos by category (Football, Basketball, etc.) or by TV Shows (SportsCenter, First Take, etc.).
Just select the video and you are now ready to watch ESPN online in high definition. The only drawback is that you cannot watch live content. [Read: How to setup Chromecast using your phone or tablet?]
2. SportsDevil Addon
The next addon that allows you to watch ESPN online for free is SportsDevil (release thread). It is a video addon for live sports and highlights, blogs and TV. SportsDevil scrapes and resolves embedded streams from websites so that they can be played with XBMC. For example, one of the sources is gofirstrowus.eu, which is one of the several places to watch sports channels live for free. There are two things you should know about doing this: 1) this may be considered stealing and 2) These websites are infested with trojans or can trick you into installing malwares or adwares. Have a good antivirus software and know what you are doing and where you are clicking. [Read: 10 of the Best XBMC Addons in 2014]
Our recommendation is to install the repository and then install SportsDevil from the repository. This way you can easily keep the plugin updated. If you want to download the latest version, you can do so from here.
In configuration, you may choose to use the default settings shown above. If you want to manually update sources then go to the
Actions tab and click on
Search Updates. You should now see SportsDevil listed under Video Addons. Just browse through the listings based on your preference (example shown below) and choose any stream.
Note that some links do not work but usually there is at least one does. That is it, you should be able to watch ESPN online and live for free in reasonably good quality.
Do not like any of these? Watch ESPN on a Roku 2 XD Streaming Player 1080p.
Continue to next page for the third addon that allows you to watch ESPN online on your XBMC.
3. ESPN Plugin
The final way to watch ESPN online for free is using the ESPN plugin. While this addon was originally introduced (release thread) as an ESPN3 addon, it has since been updated to enable other ESPN channels such ESPN, ESPN2, and more. This is one my favorite addons as it is legal and allows you to watch live as well as replay content from the recent past.
The plugin is maintained by Bluecop and we recommend you install the repository and then install the plugin from the repository. Both the repository and the current version of the plugin are available here. You may have to update your librtmp for this plugin to work. Recent versions of Ubuntu have updated version of
librtmp, which may be sufficient. [Read: 5 Best XBMC skins for Raspberry Pi]
The first thing to configure after installing is the playback. The options are self-explanatory. You can pre-set the quality of video and even have the plugin ask every time before the video begins. If you want the video to play in browser, disable “Play in XBMC”. The advantage of playing in a browser is that you can split screen and watch multiple games at the same time. If are running XBMC-standalone desktop then you have no access to a browser and therefore keep this option checked.
Next, in the
login tab, I have shown the recommended settings. Logging in lets you play live videos from almost all ESPN channels that you are subscribed to.
I have heard from some sources that by disabling “Enable Login” and “Get New User Files” and enabling “Use Custom User Files” you can play ESPN3 (not other channels) even if you do not have a subscription to ESPN through your provider. ESPN3 as you may know carries several games live. You will have to get the
userdata.xml from someone who does subscribe to ESPN and has this plugin working and place the file inside your
userdata\addon_data\plugin.video.espn3 folder. You will have to provide your friend’s cable provider as the “Cable Provider” and enable only ESPN3 under
channels. This works even if your cable provider is different from your friend’s or if your friend cancels his/her subscription later. Note that doing so is considered stealing as well. Other login settings are self-explanatory. [Read: 15 XBMC keyboard shortcuts you should know]
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channels tab enable all the channels that you are subscribed to. Again, if you got the
userdata.xml from your friend, check only ESPN3.
Finally, set your
replay preferences (how far in the past you want to go back) and you are good to go.
Now ESPN plugin should be listed under Video addons and you should be able to watch live as well as old content (based on your replay settings) in high definition for free.
So there you go, three ways to watch ESPN online for free on XBMC. Watch and enjoy!
UPDATE (8/31/2013): If you are “Script Failed!: plugin.video.espn3″ error, follow this post to correctly configure the XBMC ESPN addon.