Playing a YouTube video on your XBMC Media Center from the CLI

I’m regularly sitting in front of my TV with my laptop, surfing and chatting; many YouTube links pass on IRC or while browsing forums and such. Watching these videos would be a lot nicer on the TV than on the small laptop screen with abysmal speakers, but using the XBMC YouTube Plugin I would have to look for the clip, entering its details again. On my Android phone, I have installed the Yatse XBMC Remote app, which provides a “Play on XBMC” option when opening a Youtube video. For Firefox, Chrome and Opera, there are add-ons that can send a YouTube clip URL to XBMC as well.

However, I’m more of a command-line person, so I decided to conjure up a little bash script opening up a YouTube movie on my TV. From one of the Chrome plugins, I borrowed the regex to parse out the movie ID.


## YouTube XBMC Script 1.0
## (c) 2013, Tom Laermans -
## This script is released into the public domain.

## Configure your XBMC RPC details here


## Don't touch anything under here



if [ "$ID" == "" ];
  echo "Syntax $0 <id|url>"

if [[ $ID =~ $REGEX ]]; then

function xbmc_req {
  curl -s -i -X POST --header "Content-Type: application/json" -d "$1" http://$XBMC_USER:$XBMC_PASS@$XBMC_HOST:$XBMC_PORT/jsonrpc >/dev/null

echo -n "Opening video id $ID on $XBMC_HOST ..."
xbmc_req '{"jsonrpc": "2.0", "method": "Playlist.Clear", "params":{"playlistid":1}, "id": 1}';
xbmc_req '{"jsonrpc": "2.0", "method": "Playlist.Add", "params":{"playlistid":1, "item" :{ "file" : "plugin://'$ID'"}}, "id" : 1}';
xbmc_req '{"jsonrpc": "2.0", "method": "Player.Open", "params":{"item":{"playlistid":1, "position" : 0}}, "id": 1}';
echo " done."

Using this is as easy as passing either the complete YouTube URL or just the movie ID to it as a parameter. Remember to quote or escape correctly if there are ampersands in the URL, or you’ll be starting a number of background processes in your shell.

Would be nice to have the TV switch to the HTPC input via CEC, but unfortunately I can’t see anything related to that in XBMC’s current API.

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  • har

    Thanks! It worked out of the box, I was looking for this for some time so I don’t have to open chrome with its xbmc plugin.

  • me

    thanks for posting this. I was about to write somethine like it for myself, but oyu saved me looking into the details of the protocol.

  • Kib

    You might be interested in which has a solution to do the CEC switching (using a small addon in XBMC) over JSON-RPC

  • Tom Laermans

    Hi Kib, thanks for the awesome tip, will check it out!