Watching Races via Kodi

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Kodi cycling

You’re looking forward to another season packed with racing, right? But actually watching it can be problematic. Often a race may be on TV somewhere but there’s no way to watch it from your home or work so you resort to a dreaded pirate stream, complete with whack-a-mole pops ups and more viruses than a kindergarten. There’s a better way: Kodi.

Or at least this technology is promising but there seem to be frustrations along the way. Here’s an introductory explainer and it’d be great to hear feedback from any users in the comments.

Kodi

What is Kodi?
It’s open-source media player software that plays and streams audio and video content. It grew out of the XBox Media Center, XMBC, and in 2014 the software was renamed Kodi. It’s not much different from the likes of VLC Player but we’ll get to the software difference in a moment.

You may think the hardware is different, that Kodi comes in a box or stick much like Apple TV, Amazon’s Firestick or Google’s Chromecast. It can be bought and this way and you can set up a Kodi box, plug it into your TV and then watch streamed video content this way.

But, and here’s the important part, you can also download Kodi to your Windows computer or Apple Mac too and then run it on your home computer or laptop to watch racing within a window without having to buy any hardware.

What sets Kodi as software apart is the availability of “add-ons” where users can download and install these third-party scripts to use with Kodi. For example I downloaded an Australian TV add-on and watched the Tour Down Under coverage on Channel 9 via Kodi. There was a good, free and official livestream on Channel 9’s website but the picture quality on Kodi was way better and the images about 20 seconds ahead of the stream too, handy if you watch a race with simultaneous social media.

Can I Watch Every Race For Free on Kodi?
Probably not. For example you can get an add-on for Australia’s Channel 7 if you want to watch the Cadel Evans road races this weekend but it’s geo-restricted. The same if you want, say, Italy’s RAI TV channels so if you’re outside Italy you can’t watch, say, Tirreno-Adriatico this way.

However there’s a but so big Sir Mixalot would rap about it because there are also add-ons for pirate streams too and there are also peer-to-peer add-ons that allow people to watch sports and other content online for free. Indeed the exponential growth in Kodi use seems to be driven by people using Kodi to watch Premiership football, NBA basketball and other premium sports. This is far from ideal whether in principle or practice but if you’re already resorting to pirate streams to watch bike races, perhaps because there’s simply no other way to watch a race in your home country, then Kodi seems superior because the video quality is much better and you don’t get those pop-up ads forcing you to play whack-a-mole while trying to watch a spring classic. However be careful downloading random things from the internet.

Tech Support
Interested? Then you can buy a Kodi box for streaming or you can just download it onto your computer and then install it as you would with any other piece of software.

In order to get content you need add-ons and this is where things start to get complicated. Obviously there are many add-ons serving sports fans but few if nothing for cycling fans, instead you need to look up the likely channels and then the installation process is more complicated than one or two clicks, it involves copying URLs and rooting back and forth around in Kodi’s settings but there are plenty of only guides to walk you through this process and once you’ve done it a few times you’ll get the hang of it. This is probably the most painful part but it’s still little more than clicking a few times and some copy-paste work; Kodi maybe open source but users don’t have to tweak a single line of code.

The Verdict
It would be something if you could open the software, search for your preferred channel and sit back. With Kodi this is technically possible but it’s not there yet in reality. As such this is more evolution than revolution, a story of additional choice. Currently finding content, even legitimate streams, is not plain sailing. You have to find an add-on, work out how to install it, and then see if it works because plenty don’t. This means it’s as much an exercise in fishing as it is in streaming.

You can watch legitimate streams in a clean format on your device and if inclined you can find those pirate streams too, only in higher quality and without those suspicious pop-ups. The fundamental frustration of many bike races being televised but not being available to watch in your home country remains. Kodi can help but it won’t fix this.

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J Evans January 25, 2017 at 10:30 am

Could be very useful – thanks – although I dread the thought of my techno-goober brain actually having to use it. For pirate streams, use an adblocker and they’re fine (aside from the quality).

Ecky Thump January 25, 2017 at 11:01 am

Yes, I agree it could be an option in an emergency.
I don’t like the idea of downloading ‘add-ons’ though.

Incidentally, I find that watching on the laptop a la corsair, if you click in to the full picture, the whack-a-moles etc do not affect the picture (even if you have no adblocker).
The best quality pirate streams I found last season were run through youtube.

Rick N January 25, 2017 at 1:32 pm

I had similar experiences last year. Both for maximizing the window and with YouTube.

Todd L January 26, 2017 at 12:23 am

Have no fear. I’ve been using Kodi for years. You use a good Android based device found for around $60 on the net and you download it to the boxes harddrive. Or buy one preloaded with add-ons and you’ll have anything you wanna watch at your fingertips for FREE. Yep I said free

Mike B January 25, 2017 at 10:55 am

Kodi is great! Yes add-ons can be tricky to get installed and working but like you say worth a bit of effort.

What would be really handy is if you do a race preview you could mention what channels / options there may be out there that we can get setup. (Not asking you to name add-ons but if you could say RAI will have this on channel 6 for example we can figure out the rest)

There are ways around “geo-locking” within Kodi as well but knowing what feeds or online channels to target could be very useful!

Alan C January 25, 2017 at 12:11 pm

I used the android app Modbro to catch the daily ITV highlights of last years Tour de France whilst on holiday in Australia. Worked ok and quality was ok on a tablet.

Jonas Völtz January 25, 2017 at 12:15 pm

I belive this is the way forward and may be the begining of the end of the CATV…unless the they start introducing some sort of solution.

For instance, Netflix and NBA TV apps are good examples of how things would look in the near future.

Kodi needs improvements, but the mass pressure to seek for an alternative will eventually suceed…like a stream of water running thru the way of less resistance to meet the ocean.

Chief of the bushes January 25, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Here is a question for you knowledgable people, bypassing geo restrictions, in particular to fool the Sporza website/ app I am in Belgium would be great. Has anyone done this and if so a layman s guide would be great, pointing me in the direction of an iPad app that would do this would be even better, I don’t mind spending a few quid on it. Of course google brings up various berwildering options, but I’d much rather a recommendation rather than risk downloading random stuff.

Tovarishch January 25, 2017 at 2:50 pm
huphtur January 25, 2017 at 4:31 pm

Tunnelbear does not have server locations in Belgium so doubt watching Sporza will work.

Peter January 25, 2017 at 3:40 pm

I’ll second the Tunnel Bear recommendation. Super easy to use once it is set up, great support when you pay (there is a free option) and really cute as well. Try it, and you will see what I mean by cute.

voutilad January 25, 2017 at 8:21 pm

FoxProxy works great if you want Sporza. I’ve used a Belgian proxy from the for the last few seasons so I can stream Sporza in the US.

https://getfoxyproxy.org

Jack January 26, 2017 at 2:22 am

Mr Inrng – thank you for most of the articles you provide.

I disagree with providing a forum to enable people to ‘steal’ media rights that they don’t pay for. It is taking revenue away from the providers, the race organizers, the racers etc…

For many this will just serve as a way to not sign up for channels such as Eurosport, Sky, NBC Sports Gold, BeinSports or sling, fubo.tv. I don’t pretend to know the details for every country… but if you are truly a cycling you should sign and PAY for the appropriate channels that you can.

I realize that some of you will rationalize that this stealing is ok…. if you were a performer, an artist, a programmer, an athlete – you wouldn’t feel so good about it. Likewise if you owned a store, how would you feel if people shoplifted ? I just repeat again pay for all the legitimate sources in your country first.

The Cabling bundling in the US – is targeted at Sports fans, with multiple sources for races, and many missing. This makes the case why a unified management of the media cycling rights (ala NBA), would be superior to the ASO exclusionary approach.

Robin January 26, 2017 at 7:22 am

Well said.

Jay January 26, 2017 at 7:57 am

And in some places, many bicycling races aren’t broadcast, if at all.

We follow certain popular TV shows. They aren’t broadcast or distributed here by any mean – cable, over the air, (legitimate) online streaming.

Others are delayed or not broadcast in original language.

Alternate markets pop up when traditional marketplace fails. This is a problem for the supplier to solve, not the moral police.

The Inner Ring January 26, 2017 at 8:47 am

I agree we should subscribe and pay where possible, often the cost is low and the quality and reliability is high, eg Eurosport Player. So far my experience with Kodi is a way to watch legitimate streams online, eg watching the free TDU stream last week was just better via Kodi and you can tap Sporza’s archives legitimately as well and feast for free on a five part Merckx documentary. But yes there’s the pirate side too and it seems many watch races via pirate streaming websites already for the reasons Jay says.

Dave January 26, 2017 at 3:20 pm

for pirate streaming that horse has bolted, had a successful race career and been put out to stud. Anyone who wants to pirate-stream is already doing so and we all know which cycling sites to visit to find them, so I don’t see inrng as promoting or enabling it, just accepting it happens and discussing it.

I guess I’m in the “all the legitimate sources in your country first” camp, as I pay for eurosportplayer – it covers more road races and usually in full compared to the UK terrestrial ITV channel that shows the grand tours, often only in highlights. However I’m a huge fan of cyclocross and only some of the races are legitimately available anywhere in the UK, for the rest I either have to pirate-stream, or wait for someone to upload it to YouTube (which is effectively the same thing). It may be far more complex than I’m giving it credit for but it seems shortsighted for broadcasters and promoters to geo-restrict when there is no local competition or alternative (and kudos to Trek in the US for arranging legit free streaming of some CX races there).

Interesting timing for this conversation as Sky is dropping Discovery, who carry Eurosport. so there are lots of disgruntled Sky-subscribing cycling fans in the UK.

FYI in the UK Eurosportplayer have a promo on and an annual subscription is only £20 rather than the usual £60 if you sign up before the end of the month (no connection to them other than being a consumer who’s re-signed up at that price).

Jon January 26, 2017 at 7:23 pm

Kodi isn’t piracy or theft, as you only stream content and do not download.

Vincenzo Peruggia January 29, 2017 at 8:53 pm

“23/08/16 – Connected TV, Windows Phone and Xbox
Due to technical reasons Eurosport Player has been suspended on the Connected TV, Xbox and Windows Phone.

Eurosport Player is still available on PC/Mac and on mobile devices for Android and iOS.

We apologize for the inconvenience.”

It seems true cycling fans (in the UK at least) have PCs/Macs/mobile devices and/or subscriptions to Sky*/Virgin channels they never watch.

*It’s mentioned in these comments but any true cycling fans out there thinking of subscribing to Eurosport on Sky keep an eye on the news.

Graham January 25, 2017 at 1:02 pm

My first cycling season without a sky box to record Eurosport, rarely get the chance to watch live.

Finding Kodi great for TV shows and films, sport highlights or full races on demand seem to be beyond me though, any recommendations? Looking at the Eurosport app as it’s only £20 for the year till the end of Jan (some frightenly bad reviews for the software but the more recent ones are ok)

The Inner Ring January 25, 2017 at 1:04 pm

I subscribe to Eurosport and it works very well, at least most of the time. This is the real solution, to have a proper HD video that’s only limited by your connection speed with audio you can understand… but even so not every race is on Eurosport so you can still hunt online for some races.

Graham January 25, 2017 at 1:15 pm

I’ll get signed up!

UK Bike Channel really needs some sort of online offering as it plugs some of the gaps that Eurosport misses.

Conor January 25, 2017 at 1:32 pm

Bike channel tried YouTube streaming last year, but didn’t seem to work well. Eurosport player definitely worth a shot for £20. Signed up a couple of weeks ago and seems to work fine

Anyone know any decent add ons for Kodi? Have tried Sportsdevil and Zem Tv but quality is patchy

jollygoodvelo January 26, 2017 at 10:21 am

The UCI event streaming is pretty bad on Youtube too. I’m never sure whether it’s YT or the source – I suspect the limiting factor is usually the uplink from the remote location to “the internet”.

Curt January 26, 2017 at 3:35 pm

Sports mania

Guy January 31, 2017 at 6:34 pm

Eurosport Player isn’t HD. Max resolution is 720, which is rubbish on a 1080 or higher screen

Hammarling January 25, 2017 at 1:20 pm

So correct me if i’m wrong, but Kodi is basically a player through which you run pirate streams? Albeit at better quality because it’s pirated direct.

It’s an interesting idea, although given how much cycling is available free-to-air in host countries to my mind a VPN can easily get you around geo-restrictions and then into the direct feed. Depending on the race and the host channel, but most people are pretty good at online streaming their channels. Especially for the bigger WT and PCT races, they are covered by the bigger broadcasters and often available in multiple places.
With enough coverage i can see Kodi becoming a good platform for streaming through. Think i’ll hold off trying it myself until the structure is more in place and polished.
That and so much of bike racing is rather dull, catching the action via highlights packages on Youtube is a perfectly good option that suits me fine.

The Inner Ring January 25, 2017 at 1:43 pm

It’s a player and you can watch pirate streams but you can watch legitimate ones too. As you say with a VPN you can find these channels, with Kodi you could curate a list of channels so you can watch all the video via Kodi rather than your browser, not much difference but as I saw with the TDU the video was much a better quality.

channel_zero January 30, 2017 at 7:16 am

Not really. The average person is much better off with finding a flash-encoded stream and aggressive ad blocking with their browser.

Where Kodi is ready to do NOW is to serve IP television streams. For example, there’s a plugin for the European Space Agency. Any content they stream can be recorded and viewed from within Kodi as if it were more netflix content instead of a clunky web browser. Imagine this x100 and in other formats/forms. This is the future.

Ex: http://www.esa.int/spaceinvideos/Videos/2017/01/Spacewalker_s_view

Given the IOC *JUST* launched a pay tv channel in 2016. They are about 25 years too late and generally view the Internet as one big piracy problem. So, I very much doubt the UCI/ASO will embrace the potential of Kodi.

Chris January 25, 2017 at 1:21 pm

Meh. I’ll stick to downloading an HD torrent later in the day. I know what I’m getting and I can watch it at my leisure. Pausing as I please. Who has hours in their day to sit and watch a full, live, race?!

Vitus January 25, 2017 at 3:19 pm

I always watch my ct.nl HD downloads on my Kodi player. 😉

enajj January 26, 2017 at 7:02 am

…when I’m able to pry myself away from being a total ass as CT’s site admin. Meaning, I watch mostly highlights in SD, ride a steel bike, and always manage to give Germany an even worse name in the rest of the world (meaning to Americans and to Belgians, who represent probably 80% of CT.nl’s real participants.)

Hugs and Kisses, Vitus you POS.

CA January 25, 2017 at 3:39 pm

I know! I was reading these responses and trying to sort out how it is possible to watch a full bike race… haha.

gabriele January 25, 2017 at 7:07 pm

Try Roubaix 2016, for example.
(I’ve known a couple of persons who tried to watch the HD torrent with a finger on the fast forward button and ended up without pressing it once).

But there are some other three or four good examples out there in 2016 season only – if with *full bike race* you mean *full race*.

Whilst, if you just mean a *full broadcast*, that is a couple of hour, I’d say that the vast majority of the Giro’s stages serves well for that purpose, as well as most races, to say the truth, especially Classics.

All that assuming that you’re the kind of fan who only sees the most apparent part of the action, because there’s a lot to be seen even when most viewers aren’t seeing anything relevant – which would extend even further the possibility of watching “a full bike race”.

That said, I guess that if one’s mainly watching, say, the TdF and the Ardennes, not only full watching is akin to punishment but anything more than a stats page with the results and, dunno, some photos, might be close to being already too much.
The running-Froome Ventoux video was worthy, indeed, but you’ve got that in every generalistic news page ^__^

PS About recorded races, well, I never fully understood how can anyone possibly renounce the chance to have an impact on the final result, I mean, giving up the constant telepathic work which is usually applied to a live broadcast… 😛
I can only guess that in a quantic universe the same works with the recorded stream 😉

CA January 25, 2017 at 8:01 pm

I meant I really wish I had the time to sit down and watch a full race, but family won’t let me sit down long enough to see the entire thing!

Larry T January 25, 2017 at 8:43 pm

+1 The ONLY thing better than a live broadcast is being there yourself! I don’t mean you have to plant yourself in front of the screen with a flask to pee in so you don’t miss one second and I do understand that too many English commentators prattle-on annoyingly with inane comments, but watching the whole thing (or at least as much as they broadcast) builds a suspense that simply can’t be matched by highlights or replays. I’ve even watched with 5-6 year old kids, who (once bike racing was explained to them in an understandable way) started to get interested in the show!

Eskerrik Asko January 26, 2017 at 1:16 pm

A Russian historian famously pointed out that it is extremely difficult to forecast Russian history – but in a not unsimilar vein I can boast that my telepathic powers extent their influence into past events, too! (Provided, of course, that I am unaware of the final result.)

But there are two perfectly good reasons for *not* watching a full broadcast live: (1) you are out there on a bike ride and (2) you want to skip the commercial breaks. (On Eurosport Nordic the ads become all too soon all too familiar and turning down the sound or leaving the room becomes too tiresome…)

Baz January 25, 2017 at 1:24 pm

One completely legal cycling channel in Kodi is just using the Youtube addon to get the UCI live feeds. Was watching the CX from Hoogerheide on this at the weekend, it covers a fair bit of track racing too. Only problem with the interface is, it caches the search results and the ‘Live’ feeds don’t show up till the feed starts…so if you search too early you need to think of a creative way to find the same feed again with another search.

Vitus January 25, 2017 at 3:30 pm

There are 2 YT addons, one fro the official Kodi repository, another one called Youtube Chnnels https://www.tvaddons.ag/kodi-addons/show/plugin.video.ytchannels/ , which let you store the UCIchannel as favourite. More handy than the official one.

Though the addon doesn’t help much if it’s geo-blocked in countries the UCI sold rights for a specific event.

Baz January 28, 2017 at 2:42 am

I can favourite YT channels in the ‘official’ kodi addon just fine (search for UCI, choose ‘Channels’, select the UCI channel, press c, add to favourites) – also I’m using Amber so favourites appear as their own section – the standard (in v16) Confluence skin is fairly useless as favourites are awkward to get at and it only lets the addon itself, not any other content inside a plugin like YT channels, appear as an icon in the home screen. This is a good way to surface other content too – I’ve got a pile of Sufferfest videos for the turbo, Kodi can’t scrape metadata for those as TV or Movies and the Video section buries them several menu items down. So, favourite that, use a skin that features favourites prominently, and they’re just a click away.

The big problem with the YT plugin is the API keys keep being over quota – you need to get your own. Also, as you say, other channels come in and swipe races from the UCI. I guess I can live with that since it means the sport is getting more popular?

Larry T January 25, 2017 at 3:36 pm

Thanks for sharing this. I thought the digital age would have opened a world of watching whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted, but instead there are still too many geo restricted DVD’s, TV broadcasts, etc.
We faced these frustrations when in the USA over too many winters. Even in Italy we bought the Eurosport package (though in Italy we got the Italian commentary, thank gawd!) to augment the free RAI coverage available. As much as I dislike Rupert Murdoch, we do miss the SKY setup we enjoyed free one winter (The Bike Channel is great) but didn’t really want to hand this plutocrat any of our money.
Back in the USA we bought a current model, cheapo Dell laptop dedicated solely to TV streaming via HDMI cable and use a VPN to access RAI and Eurosport (our subscription works since it was set up in Italy and the VPN lets you pretend you’re there, even from here in the USA) and are able to watch pretty much anything these days. Since this laptop has nothing on it other than the OS, we don’t worry about any negative effects from the free VPN and any junk that shows up via pirate streams (if we can’t find it on Eurosport or RAI) is easy to remove without fear of losing any important data.
One of our Italian faves is RAI’s RADIOCORSA show on Thursday evenings which they’re running even in the “off-season” when there’s not much in racing results to report. Instead you get more rumors, gossip and visits by guests who don’t have much else to do during this period.

Tom January 25, 2017 at 3:45 pm

The easiest way to get going with kodi is to use tvaddons. It’s a skinned version of kodi with an installation wizard that does the techy bits for you. It installs lots of channels for you but specifically sportsdevil and UK Turks have hundreds of live sporting streams. I watch all of the classics and tours this way. http://www.tvaddons.ag

Paul January 25, 2017 at 7:36 pm

Has anyone else used the tiz-cycling.racing site? I prefer on demand so I can watch at a convenient time (PST).

Twisted Spoke January 25, 2017 at 8:24 pm

OMG, you threw in a Sir Mixalot reference!!!! Genius.

Olmo January 27, 2017 at 12:31 am

+1 how was this not the lead comment topic?

Des January 25, 2017 at 10:54 pm

The one thing this blog lacked was early 90s hip hop references. Solved : )

Paul January 26, 2017 at 9:10 am

“But, and here’s the important part, you can also download Kodi to your Windows computer or Apple Mac too and then run it on your home computer or laptop to watch racing within a window without having to buy any hardware”

Also if you have a smart tv.

There is also a remote control addon for your smartphone which makes the whole thing a lot earsier

Michael B January 27, 2017 at 9:32 am

Given the dispute between Sky UK and Discovery it seems Eurosport will disappear from our TVs soon: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/sky-tv-customers-lose-discovery-negotiations-animal-planet-eurosport-10-more-channels-february-month-a7547371.html

I was thinking about getting the Eurosport Player app. Does anyone on here have it? Can you download race packages to your phone or is it live streaming only?

The Inner Ring January 27, 2017 at 9:39 am

I have it and like it, you can sign-up online and watch via your browser and then on the app via mobile.

The quality is good and it works across countries, if you are in a country that has its local version of Eurosport then you get that rather than a “sorry this only works in one country” message which is handy if you travel. Also you get extra channels so that if a bike race isn’t on Eurosport 1 or 2 you might find it online, at least without the sound.

I’ve seen tweets saying it is 20 pounds for the year which sounds like it’s hard to lose here but check your T&C in case they sting you with a pricey auto-renewal for the following year. Concious that this reads like a sales brochure but am just a satisfied customer.

Michael B January 27, 2017 at 10:43 am

Thanks Inrng, it sounds like a worthwhile investment. Does it still work without internet connection? E.g. Netflix have just brought in the function to download to your device for when you’re on trains/planes etc. Sorry for the million questions – I realise you’re not Eurosport customer service!

The Inner Ring January 27, 2017 at 11:57 am

No, don’t think you can watch offline. With the browser you can go back, just move the time slider back an hour etc but it’s online only.

Michael B January 27, 2017 at 12:58 pm

Thanks for the reply Inrng. It’s a real crossroads for TV/sports industry now as to whether they can embrace change and offer more flexible subscription models or whether they stick to old school “bundles”. Get it wrong and pirate streams fill the gap, whether they like it or not.

J Evans January 28, 2017 at 10:51 am

You can only go back 3 hours with the slider. And it’s Europe only, annoyingly.

Kryten January 27, 2017 at 9:05 pm

Checked the T&C for that offer. Seems okay – you just have to remember to cancel autorenew sometime in last month (you have to wait until then) or it puts you on the monthly plan.

I’ve been thinking about signing up – will probably do it having read all this.

Leo S January 27, 2017 at 10:16 am

The other handy thing about Kodi is that you can run it on a Raspberry Pi.

Rather than having to put a PC out in the garage where the turbo is, I have a Pi running Kodi which allows me to stream (legitimately) Eurosport Player and a couple of other things to pass the time like Youtube, iPlayer etc.

Pair it with a cheap monitor from Amazon and a wifi bridge to provide a strong connection and you have a pretty good (and cost effective) solution to entertaining yourself when the weather is simply too grim for a ride.

Victor January 29, 2017 at 10:41 pm

Zattoo, the Swiss version, is an excellent option. It has a myriad of domestic and international channels, including Eurosport, ITV, BBC, ARD, ZDF and RAI. Works across different platforms. You would need a VPN or DNS service to access it outside Switzerland.

channel_zero January 30, 2017 at 7:26 am

Kodi is okay.

I am a mythtv user from way back. Very worth it IMO. It’s not the same thing as Kodi and the backend needed to record runs only on Linux. It’s a great way to free legal content from a set top box for time shifting.

Also, there are a very large number of Android IP TV devices on amazon that are essentially Kodi front ends. A few include a Kodi build.

Ecky Thump January 30, 2017 at 8:18 am

What I find ridiculous is the fact that I have to pay over £145 for a television licence here in the UK, but there’s virtually no cycling all. Plenty of ball room dancing, cake baking and what have you.
If Eurosport is so cheap, why can’t the Beeb do a deal and get it on terrestrial television?

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