If you haven’t noticed by now, we’re pretty big fans of the Apple TV here at iDownloadBlog, and for good reason.

As we alluded to in our benefits post yesterday, the Apple TV is probably one of the best sub-$99 purchases that money can buy if you’re looking for entertainment.

In this article, we’ll show you another reason why the Apple TV is a must have, and once you own it, why you must jailbreak it. The answer? XBMC.


XBMC has an entire community dedicated to custom themes, and that’s sure to make it easy to find a theme that works for you. Themes can also be tweaked and altered to the end users liking, so there’s guaranteed to be something for everyone. In the video demonstration above, I’m using the Refocus theme. In a follow up post, we’ll show you how to install custom themes on your XBMC instance.


There are tons and tons of plugins for XBMC. For the Apple TV’s purposes, most plugins will be used for content like movies, music, and video. We’ll tackle a few of our favorites below.


We’ve already created a few comprehensive guides to show you how to get Hulu on your jailbroken Apple TV. It’s definitely worth it if you’re a Hulu Plus member. There’s TV shows like the Office, Parks and Recreation, SNL episodes, and host of movies to boot. This, coupled with Netflix, makes the Apple TV ideal for so-called “Cable Cutters”.


Indeed, the full Pandora experience is here, and frankly it’s even better that the one you get on a normal desktop. This Pandora experience seems to be devoid of advertisements, which immediately makes it better. It also features a visualizer to help you rock out to your favorite jams.


This is what first attracted me to the prospect of jailbreaking my Apple TV, and remains the primary reason why I love it so much. You can stream live basketball, football, and a host of other sports right from the comforts of your Apple TV. You can even watch replays of games that are up to 120 days old. That’s a pretty sweet deal for sports fans.


Is it really surprising that XBMC’s YouTube experience is that much better than the one on a stock Apple TV? No. It’s a much cleaner experience with many more options than you get on Apple’s implementation, and we found the search results to be a lot more accurate here as well.

So much more

When it comes to content, we’re not using hyperbole when we say that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Literally, there’s SO MUCH more content to be found on a jailbroken Apple TV running XBMC it’s just insane. Explore a bit, and you’re sure to find some content that will keep you glued to the television screen.

After reading this article, and the benefits to jailbreaking, has your opinion changed at all about Apple’s “hobby” device? If so, let us know what you think in the comments below.

  • Idb makes me want to get apple tv.

  • do you haft to live in the us to watch espn? 🙂

    • Yes u do. I’m in Japan and unless you have a US ipaddress u can not watch it. Which means you’ll have to get a VPN account and router unless your country’s Internet provider offers a US ISP address. And lceFilms is all the reason you need to jailbreak ur ATV.

    • ron-mcse

      The ESPN plug-in is a bit tricky, you have to have an active Cable account, and then log into ESPN.com with your free account while at home on your Cable account network. From there you have to open the source code of the ESPN website and find your SWID number, then ssh into your ATV2 and edit some files with your SWID number in order to get ESPN plug-in to work! At least that is how I got mine to work, If anyone knows of any other simpler method, please share.

  • Don’t forget the best plugin out there ICEFILMS.

    • how does this work on an AppleTV. On their website it looks like movies are broken up into individual megaupload files. Is this really that much better than just downloading a bluray rip and using AirPlay to watch it?

  • yea i want one now, please keep the videos on the apple tv coming so i can jailbreak it as soon as i get one

  • Anonymous

    For real. This is the greatest thing I’ve done jailbreaking Apple devices.

  • Dan

    I’m thinking of going to pick up one up at Apple store next week, but I have a question for you guys. I live in Canada. Will features like ESPN work for me? Or even Icefilms or Hulu?

    Once it’s jailbroken, I can connect my portable hard drive and play movies directly on the unit? Even dvd image iso’s?

    I figure I’ll try it out and if it doesn’t work bring it back, but would be nice to know in advance. Sorry for all the questions, but the lack of information on google is staggering.

    • Steven Smith

      You need a VPN account and router so that it will be US IP address for ESPN and Hulu. Hulu+ needs subscription. Icefilms you can get it anywhere without VPN account or router.

      • Dan

        know if there’s anything else worthwhile such as Icefilms without country limitations?

  • I cant seem to get espn on my apple tv. Can anyone help. I tried PlayOn and it’s not connecting to my laptop. I’ve tried everything. Please help. That’s the only thing I’m missing.

  • Anonymous

    Keep the apple tv videos coming… At first I thought the aTV was an overpriced iTunes video viewer, but with all this (and 4.4.4), I might just have to get one.

    • Definitve. More videos! I’m interest in the themes, how to change them, customize and do things that stands out my appl tv.

  • IceFilms and to a lesser extent Navi X are the ‘only’ reason to purchase an Apple TV… But they are bloody good reasons!

  • Jeff, can you create a video on how to install xbmc for the apple tv. I haven’t had any luck finding a reliable video…thanks

  • Can you play avi file or must they be converted? I already have DLNA on my tv but it doesn’t support avis(xvid divx)and those are the most common formats around

  • Don’t worry, we have a plex post in the queue.

    • Awesome! Thanks for the response, Ben. I’m kind of a Plex fanboy.

      Fanboy is appeased.

  • shame you can’t Jailbreak your 1st Gen Apple TV..w/o having to pay $49.95.

  • Can Pandora run in the background? once I get out of Pandora, it’s no longer playing.. Can you try that Jeff.. And for the folks who have problem with ESPN, just change some parameter then save it and get back into it and changed everything to default then save again.. should work.. Good luck..

  • With Icefilms don’t you need a paid MU account to really use it? Otherwise you hit your free daily download limit in about an hour.

    • You don’t need a paid account. It’s completely free. Just install it and voila! Tons of content to watch

  • Anonymous

    Can someone please tell me if I can share my macbook air screen with apple tv?

  • Anonymous

    I would like to see a video on how to set up streaming video from your computer to appleTV. I dont know if you have to hook up through your homegroup or home network, so I have no idea.

  • Hi guys! Any thoughts on what’s going to happen with Icefilms, pelisalacarta and others with the closing of Megaupload?

  • Tom

    I have installed XBMC on both my Mac and Apple TV. I have spent hours trying to figure out the interface and get any real content. Very frustrating. I have been a network technician for almost 20 years, but I cannot figure out the XBMC interface and get any decent programming to work. Any advice or suggestions would be most appreciated. I’d love to crack the code and get to work before I die. Thank you!

  • Do you need to pay for: ESPN, HULU and Amazon Vod and all the other posibilities? I really want to if you need a pay account, to make use of these great feautures.

  • Chris

    Am sorry but the video didnt explain to me that much what is xbmc ?
    Like what is it what does it do
    i noticed he went in Espn to show some videos does it show a full game or just what they show on espn website just a a small video of what happened during a game