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We are living in what some are calling the golden age of television. Now, usually, when people throw this phrase around, they are talking about the fact that there is a much larger collection of high-quality shows available than there has ever been before. It is a content-driven market. Thanks to the relatively recent onrush of streaming services all constantly racing to put out new content, there is a surplus of television series the likes of which has never existed before.
We can, at least in part, thank Netflix for this race to become the top streaming service. They sort of kicked it off. Even though they began as a sort of mail to door DVD rental service that would eventually render Blockbuster obsolete, they quickly pivoted their business model to favor the much cheaper alternative of offering streaming content. I imagine this was always their goal … they just had to wait for the technology to catch up with their vision.
The moment that the majority of people had reliable access to the internet and the ability to stream with little to no lag or quality concerns, voila, there they were with tons of syndicated content. From there, it was just a matter of production time for Netflix to become the number one streaming platform for original content. Then virtually every other streaming platform, once again, raced to keep pace.
We suddenly saw streaming services such as Hulu and Amazon Prime Video begin putting out award-winning original series and movies as well. This would go on for years. And, in fact, is still happening to this day. More recently, however, it seems as if each individual cable network has also decided that they want in on the fun. And now we have platforms like Disney Plus, HBO Max, and NBC Peacock, all of which offer, of course, as they always have, their own original content as well.
The more streaming services that come into existence, the more the streaming world is beginning to feel nostalgic about cable – somewhat defeating the purpose of cutting the cord, to begin with. If every single network simply starts offering its own content and putting legal limitations of the rights to syndicated shows and movies, the less convenient streaming becomes in general.
I hope I’m wrong about this, but it looks as if we are heading down a road where the structure of streaming will just become a wireless and more expensive version of what cable used to be – having to pay per channel, only being able to watch certain programming on certain networks. It seems to me as if the streaming service industry is on its way toward entering a bubble, much like the dot com bust of the early aughts.
But, hey, only time will tell, right? For now, personally, I just want to sit back and continue enjoying all of the great, critically acclaimed streaming content that I can get my hands on. However, for those of you who are perhaps getting fed up with all of this corporate warfare and cash-grabbing for content, there is another way. That’s right, I’m talking about going the route of a media server.
Not only do media servers like Kodi make it possible to bypass certain network members-only protocols, allowing you to access shows and movies even if you are not a Netflix, Hulu, etc. subscriber, but they can also become a beyond convenient resource for easy access to all of your subscription services as well.
Access all your favorite streaming sites from one well-designed location on your TV. Similar to having a Roku device without the hardware, Kodi allows users to quickly bounce between Netflix, Spotify, Pandora, Hulu, Amazon Video, YouTube, Crackle, and the rest of them. All it takes is a click of the remote control. Plus, it has some very cool customizable features that you will not want to miss out on. Take your at-home media enjoyment to the next level with this Multi-Platform Home Theater experience.
Kodi’s software was created in 2002. It was an independently developed “homebrew” media player (as they are often referred to) that was originally called Xbox Media Player. It was coded for the very first Xbox gaming console. In 2004, the software’s name was changed to Xbox Media Center (often abbreviated as XBMC … this abbreviation became its official name in 2008). It first appeared as an app, too, under the name of XBMC and was available on Linux, Android, BSD, macOS, iOS, tvOS, and Microsoft Windows operating systems.
Since Kodi is a free and open-sourced application, there have been numerous Kodi spin-offs that have gone to market. JeOS, for instance, has modified Kodi so that it could be used as a software appliance suite or a software framework for smart televisions – essentially modifying Kodi’s core C++ code in order to make something of a Kodi-based operating system for TVs. Other whole media server programs have also been created based on Kodi’s initial coding – software such as Plex and Media Portal owe their existence to Kodi’s free and open code.
Although the majority of attention that Kodi has received has been positive, it has also received a great deal of flack due to the fact that it is so easy for users to install third-party plugins, many of which are not officially authorized by anyone, least of all the streaming platforms and cable networks that are affected by the most.
These plugins and capabilities make it possible, as I hinted at earlier, for people to get around paying for content. There are many extensions for Kodi, for instance, that allow people to stream copyrighted content for free. Exciting news for cord-cutters and pirates around the world, no doubt, not so much for the NBC or Disney executive.
I rather like the design of Kodi’s interface. It is sleek, easy to navigate, and very intuitive. I am a fan of the default skin, too, that Kodi comes in – a sort of gunmetal and midnight blue theme – but if that is not quite your aesthetic, worry not, because Kodi can be completely customized to your likings – one of the many things that Kodi users love about the software.
On the left-hand side of the interface, you will find an easily navigated list of types of content. This is, in my opinion, the best and most logical way to go about organizing Kodi, by media type, because of the enormous number of files and programs that Kodi can run. Simply choose from TV, radio, add-ons, pictures, videos, favorites, or weather. From there, once a selection is made, you can browse all of your content – from downloaded files to apps to extensions. Allow Kodi to turn your TV into what basically amounts to a powerful computer operating system of sorts.
When it comes to content on Kodi, well, the sky is more or less the limit. Anything that can be downloaded, streamed, or programmed into Kodi is a fair game. That means that you can access all of your own video and picture files right alongside your favorite movies and streaming platforms. If you can access it online (or have it downloaded), Kodi makes it easy for you to do so. Then, of course, there are also hundreds of add-ons and extensions for Kodi that you can browse to make your Kodi experience wholly your own.
Pricing and Plans
As I mentioned previously, Kodi is 100% free and open-sourced. That means you can download it today, free of charge, and enjoy everything Kodi has to offer. All you have to pay is your monthly subscription fees of the programs that you want to be able to access on Kodi. Or find the right add-ons and pay nothing … what you do with Kodi is your business, but Kodi itself costs nothing.
Suggestions that I have for Kodi
My only suggestion for Kodi would be to make it a little bit easier to download – particularly for smartphones and tablets. I feel like it requires a little more technical savvy than is necessary. That is not to say that it is outright difficult. But it is also not as simple as searching Kodi in the app store and clicking “Get.” So, easier access for the masses would be my only note.
Kodi has the potential to take your at-home entertainment experience and lift it to the next level. If you are willing to take the time to truly master the Kodi interface, it will be well worth it. I say try it today. Oh, and if you enjoy your Kodi, do be sure to donate, since that is the only way the software can continue to improve!