How to use RSS & BitTorrent to download TV shows

Are you tired of scanning several BitTorrent sites for the latest episodes of your favorite TV-show? You should definitely try using RSS feeds then. RSS and BitTorrent are a perfect match.

What the heck is RSS?

rss tv torrent BitTorrentFor those who are not familiar with the term, RSS is an acronym that stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’. It allows you to keep up-to-date on content from sites you are interested in. Most news sites, blogs and podcasts have RSS feeds that let you automatically receive updates when a new article (or episode in the case of podcasts) is published (we have one).

These days, many BitTorrent sites have also started publishing RSS feeds of their listings. These feeds are often highly customizable, and can send you updates on whatever you want. Some even enclose .torrent files like podcast feeds enclose media ones.

In this article we will focus on RSS feeds for TV-torrents. Here are 5 ways to use these feeds. From completely automated downloading and watching, to simple updates when a torrent for your favorite TV show is published.

Downloading TV-shows can be illegal in some countries. If so, consider moving to another country, download share friendly shows only, or collect the torrents just for fun.

tv torrent feedsFirst, you might want to know where you can find these feeds. A great site to find TV torrent feeds is tvRSS.net. Click on one of the shows and you will see a list of the torrents for the latest episodes. In the blue bar above the search results you might notice the “search based RSS feed”, that is the feed that indexes releases of a particular show. This is the feed were going to use, so copy the url.

It is worth pointing out that other, less TV-focused sites like mininova also offer search-based RSS feeds. The reason they’re called “search-based feeds” is because they are feeds that relate to particular search terms. For example, if you search for ‘Rocketboom’, at the top of the results page you will get a feed that will send you updates on all torrents with the word ‘Rocketboom’ in their name.

If you want to know more details about how to customize these feeds, or how to combine multiple feeds, check out this post.

OK, so now you know how to find a feed for your favorite TV show. Although, you might still be wondering what you are to do with these feeds. Some people prefer to receive only an alert, others might want to have their torrents start downloading automatically. Here are a couple of suggestions.

Torrents in your feed reader

This is probably one of the easiest ways to receive updates on the latest episodes of your favorite TV shows, especially if you already use a feed reader. You can use either a desktop or a web-based reader. Some popular web-based feed readers include Bloglines, Google Reader and Netvibes. Desktop feed readers vary from platform-to-platform. The most common desktop reader for Windows would have to be the appropriately named Feedreader. On Linux, Liferea is a good option. And on Mac OS X, Vienna is possibly the best free desktop reader available. All three of these are Open Source too.

Torrents by Email

If you use an email application like Thunderbird with RSS support you can directly add the feed in there. If not, you can try a feed-to-email service that will forward the latest torrents to your email account. FeedBlitz and Squeet are two popular feed-to-email services.

TV Torrent Software

TVTAD and Ted are applications that help you to get the latest TV torrents by using RSS feeds. Both applications are advanced feed readers that you can customize to find and download your favorite TV shows. These applications have a pre-loaded list of TV torrent feeds and some advanced filter options built in. They are especially useful when you use a BitTorrent client that doesn’t have RSS support.

BitTorrent Clients with RSS Support

There are a couple of BitTorrent clients that are able to handle RSS feeds. Azureus, Bitcomet and uTorrent for example can all subscribe to RSS feeds. You can check this list to see if your favorite BitTorrent client supports RSS feeds. uTorrent has a great tutorial how to configure the feeds to automate downloading.

Broadcatching / Internet TV Applications

To quote the Wikipedia entry on the topic, “broadcatching is the downloading of content that has been made available over the Internet using RSS Syndication for listening on mobile devices and personal computers”. These internet TV players allow you to automatically download and watch the latest TV shows, video podcasts and more. These players might be useful for people who only use BitTorrent to download video files. Personally I’m not too excited about these players yet. Most players are still pretty buggy, and not very advanced in their configuration options. The EFF has its own such application. It was previously known as Broadcast Machine, but was subsequently renamed to Democracy Player. It too is still quite buggy, hogs RAM and crashes often. Here’s a review of three popular “broadcatching” applications we did a while ago.

Did this tutorial help you? Or do you already use BitTorrent and RSS to download and watch content?

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