Kodi Media Player: Chinese TV

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The entertainment space in the world is getting larger and larger. We dropped cable a couple of years ago and use Over the Air (OTA) digital tv. We are not supplementing this with internet video streaming. Yes, you can go directly to Youtube and stream whatever, but there is also another way: the Kodi Media Player. Using Kodi I can now stream live Chinese tv to Canada, when I want.

Kodi: Chinese Language Mandarin Broadcast Status: 2017 July 06
CNTV Live / CCTV, China

  • National | no channels working
  • Digital: 新科动漫 Animation | working 2017Jul15, the rest are not
  • Provincial: few working
    山东教育台: 2017Jul15, works
    厦门卫视: 2017Jul15, works
    香港卫视: HKS, 2017Jul06, works

  • City-based: few working
    北京: BTV文艺, BTV科教, BTV影视, BTV财经, BTV生活, BTV青少 2017Jul06
    福建, 厦门: 2017Jul15 works
    内蒙古, 蒙语频道: 2017Jul06 works
    四川, 成都新闻集合, 成都公共: 2017Jul15, works
    天津, 滨海新闻集合, 滨海综艺频道: 2017Jul15, works

SG!TV > Live, Singapore: All working, Ch5, Ch8 is Mandarin
CCVT Replay: All not working
亚洲电视 Asia TVs

  • CCTV: works for 10 secs, then freezes, not enough buffer
  • HK / Taiwan > 臺电视新闻 Tai dianshi xinwen, Taiwan news | works
  • 本港台1 | HK, usually works
  • 香港卫视 | HK HKS Satellite, works
  • 香港WOWOW | HK, has Japanese broadcasts, other, but works
  • 香港LStime: HK, old, low res Chinese movies, mandarin, Chinese and English subtitles

CCTV Web site: Chinese Language Mandarin Broadcast Status: 2017 July 01
Ch 1, 10, 11, 12社会与法, 13, 15: Geoblocked
Ch 2财经, 3综艺, 4亚洲, 6电影, 7 军事农业, 8电视剧, 9 纪录, 14少儿 | working

In the ’60s through to the ’80s, Over the Air analog tv using an outside antenna was popular. Apart from the antenna there were no other costs. Decades ago cable TV dominated family living rooms. This was expensive due to the high monthly charge. We used to pay $70CAD/month, and programming quality was dubious. There were also a lot of commercials every 15 minutes, as has current digital OTA tv.

OTA tv is great. All you need is an antenna, coax cable and a digital tv. The old 1980s analog antenna can be used, because it is the tv that processes the digital signal. The resulting picture quality, for digital feeds, is really excellent. Current cable tv feeds are compressed, compromizing picture quality. Still, you need to aim your antenna properly for a maximum number of stations. you either get the station or not. OTA tv has limited stations, they have their own schedule and also broadcasts commercials every 15 minutes.

The Kodi Media Player is open source software that runs on a computer. If you have a computer that uses linux, Windows or OSX. With these computers you simply download the free Kodi software and start watching streaming video broadcasts, many which are live.

The alternative method for enjoying Kodi is to buy a Kodi box. These boxes, for about $100CAD, are a small self enclosed computer with Kodi already loaded. The programming cannot be changed. These boxes are slowly being outlawed for sale in Ontario, but I really do not see why. The software is open source and easily downloaded, installed and used for free. The box, without Kodi is also not illegal and can be bought as well.

Kodi Issues

Kodi is not perfect. For specific programming, like Mandarin Chinese broadcasts, you need to find specific addons, which allow you to view specific streaming video. Many of these addons might not work or might have changed. Often specific addons are unreliable and can freeze Kodi as well as your computer. That said, find the right addon and you are set.

Not only do you need to find the right addon for your language, but for different types of genre. For example I like news and tv shows but don’t watch movies, so I don’t use the movie addons.

Kodi depends on the stability of the various broadcasts. Sometimes the broadcasts are not available or unclear. You can then bypass these and find a different channel. Not all channels are available at all times.

And speaking of times, certain programming is only available at certain times. For example the Chinese kid’s channel does not broadcast after 12:00pm noon in Toronto, because this is 12:00am midnight in China and the kids are all sleeping.

Some programs are blocked to certain geographic locations. In this case you can use a VPN program to fake your geographic location, but usually location this is not a problem.

My favourite stations are CNTV Live, which has CCTV, which is live broadcast. Some of the National Channels are great. They broadcast in Mandarin.

2017 June 21: CNTV on Kodi has not come through for he last couple of days. I don’t know why. From this 2015 threadI found this IP address used for broadcasts, but it is dead.

Alternates to Kodi: CNTV web site
From this thread I found a direct link to CNTV. It wants you to add a plugin (CNTV Live2 Chrome Live) to Chrome, and then after I reloaded a couple of times was able to watch old versions of CNTV. I could not, however, get it to work realtime. Newer show times resulted in a black screen. Maybe I need more time watching to get used to it. I can receive ch 1, ch 3, the army channel and the kids channel.

Choose the channel on the right side (result is a blank screen), then click one of the huikan 回看. It looks like I can only watch the huikan 回看 (rebroadcast) but not the zhibo 直播 (currently broadcasting). I guess that is Ok. This only works on Chrome with their special CNTV Live2 Chrome Live plugin. There is no equivalent for Firefox and the broadcasts will not play.

As I was watching CNTV on Chrome the prerecorded show video ended, which is Ok, but then Chrome locked up my Ubuntu system! I now do not let the video end, preferring to end it early. I had to hard reboot. Twice. It looks like the CNTV plugin is not stable.

I note that just before one rebroadcast has ended, if you refresh the screen the next video is ready to go. Still, there are gaps in the entertainment broadcast but not in the commercials. The commercials seem to load very quickly and can be fast forwarded and not viewed.

There also seems to be some issues with going full screen and then having the plugin freeze up my Ubuntu system. Going full screen and back has frozen up my PC many times.

Note that at times there is a lot of Chinese propaganda, some subtle and some blatant. Programming can include many songs in a row about beautiful China, which then segways into songs about the Silk Road, China’s new economic plan to reinvigorate trade through to the Middle East. It is best to watch other programs at this time.

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