Get Hulu, Netflix & YouTube via Windows Home Server With PlayOn Media Server

Over the weekend, I took a look at a number of different services which promise convenient access to some of the major online video distributors on your Media Center or Windows Home Server.

Yesterday, I mentioned which allows you to access Hulu in the USA on your Media Center. Right now, work has yet to begin with that application on support for Extenders or Digital Media Receivers, which would unlock the holy grail for many – Hulu on your TV.

However, one application is already promising to stream content from Netflix, Hulu and YouTube to your Xbox 360, PS3 and a range of DMRs, including the HP MediaSmart Connect and it does so via Windows Home Server. It’s PlayOn Media Server.

PlayOn Media Server has to be installed on the home server via Remote Desktop, and whilst it states that it supports Windows Home Server (which it does), you’ll have to upgrade your version of Windows Media Player from v10 which ships with WHS to version 11. Fortunately, we have a walkthrough available on how to perform this upgrade over at the WGS Wiki (and, as I used it over the weekend, I can assure you it works!)

Once you have the upgrade completed, you can install PlayOn and you’ll immediately find it appears as a media server option on your PS3/Xbox 360/DMR.

Click through and you’ll see options for Netflix, Hulu (both US Only) and YouTube listed, along with a stack of news video content from ESPN, CNN and others.

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All powered by Windows Home Server (with a little help!)

PlayOn Media Server is free for 14 days with licenses at $39.99. (A $10 discount was due to finish yesterday but still looks valid today if you act quickly).

More Info: PlayOn Media Server


  1. Would a Vista HTPC running Windows Media Center be seen as a Windows Media Extender?

    My 360 got the 3 lights of death and is in the mail to MS repair.

  2. Just wanted to say thanks for the great review! A user on our forums pointed us out to your post. We’re working hard to improve PlayOn every day, and have many cool features planned for the future. Thanks again!

  3. I was able to get this working. Now my kids a glued to the TV watching episodes of Flipper from Hulu.

    This is an over the top distribution channel similar to Boxee which Hulu recently pulled it content from. Will PlayOn be next?

  4. Great (timely for me) article. I went ahead and followed the instructions to upgrade to WMP 11. I had a couple of follow up questions:

    I have a HP EX470 and a couple of laptops that backup to the WHS. I really would love to use the Netflix streaming functionality to watch films on a tv rather than a laptop. Can I tap the wisdom of the WGS community to point me in the direction of EX470/PlayOn compatible DMRs/Extenders?

  5. @JP – Thanks for the response. Seems like a lot of folks use the XBox 360 as a DMR. The irony is that I got an X360 the day it came out — stood in line for 2+ hours and snagged it at Costco — but returned it because I am not a big gamer. I do however have an original XBox that I am going to (someday) hack with XBMC.

    Actually, I am looking for something like the Linksys DMA2100 that I can stick under the TV and have the family use with minimal fuss.

    Any other ideas?

  6. I would suggest going ahead with the xbmc install. It took me a little while to work up the guts but once I got started there was nothing to it. I had to learn a couple of new (useful) tricks like how to FTP but that’s useful information anyway. Unfortunately we just lost our Hulu plugin support as David mentioned above which is what broght me to this article, hopefully this will be just the fix I’m looking for. But if you’re just looking for a great way to stream video/music around the house, dive in. (not to mention emulators, and support for internet radio)

  7. I too have played around with Playon with the WHS due to this article. It is not working properly for me. It works fine for a while with Cnn, hulu, and CBS. After a few streams, it gives me an error and won’t reconnect. If I RD in to the server and restart the playon server, it will start streaming again for a few shows. I have never gotten youtube to stream and haven’t tried netflix (not a subscriber). If anyone has gotten this to work FLAWLESSLY, please post detailed instructions on what you have done. It is definitely cool when it works, but for me thus far, it hasn’t worked for more than several minutes/streams at a time. Thanks.

  8. i haven’t played with netflix (no account). however, make sure that you go in and turn off enhanced security configuration on the WHS IE7. This made a WORLD of difference for me.

  9. That trialpay trick worked great!

    Signed up for free credit check and instantly got the key. Cancelled right away – no problems.

  10. I just got an email saying playon is 20 bucks for the next few days. It specifies that the offer is for people currently using the free trial but it might be worth a shot to download the free trail and then try the code.

    Click on buy and enter Coupon Code PLAYON1999. This coupon is valid from now until June 30, 2009 at 11:59pm EST.

    They're always improving the program and they've recently added some media browser functions.

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