Sickbeard provides a cool way to automatically download TV shows as soon as they become available on Usenet. Though Sickbeard is a bit buggy and hard to configure, it’s also totally free and it integrates well with Plex, Kodi and many other programs and apps that cord-cutters love. You can even configure Sickbeard to download torrents and automatically attach TV show art to files.
Read on to find out about:
- What Sickbeard is and what it’s for
- How to configure Sickbeard
- How to hook Sickbeard up to SABnzbd
- Usenet subscription (recommended: NewsHosting)
- If you’re new to Usenet, read the article linked below to learn about NZB files before you continue on.
Disclaimer: This guide is intended to help readers access content they already have purchased the rights to access, but are for whatever reason unable to access either temporarily, or permanently. Flixed.io does not support software piracy, and bears no responsibility for what you decide to do with the contents of this article. Furthermore, please note that Flixed.io in no way hosts, develops, or produces any of the software mentioned within this article. For more information, please see our full disclaimer here.
- 1 Prerequisites
- 2 AddonHQ Recommends Newshosting
- 3 Sickbeard’s Main Features
- 4 Installing Sickbeard
- 5 Getting Started with Sickbeard
- 5.1 Configuration overview
- 5.2 Adding a TV show
- 5.3 Adding metadata
- 5.4 Downloading torrents
- 6 Wrapping it up
AddonHQ Recommends Newshosting
Before we start, we thought it might be useful to provide our personal recommendation on who the best Usenet service provider is. After reviewing several providers, We've found it to be Newshosting. They offer 256-bit SSL encryption, a built-in newsreader, the longest file retention of any Usenet provider and other great features. You can click here to get started with a free 14-day trial.
Sickbeard’s Main Features
The Sickbeard website lists 4 main Sickbeard features: automatic episode downloads, TV episode renaming, metadata integration and cross-platform notifications.
Automatic episode downloads
Sickbeard’s PVR (Personal Video Recorder) functionality is its most attractive feature. Once you hook Sickbeard up to SABnzbd and at least one NZB search engine, you can use Sickbeard to automatically download new TV episodes as soon as they become available.
TV episode renaming
If you use Plex or other similar home media streaming systems, it’s useful to have all your media files’ names formatted a certain way. The problem is that the content you’ll find on Usenet is labeled in all kinds of different ways. TV episodes are particularly troublesome because there are many ways to indicate the episode and season. If you get all your TV content via Slickbeard, though, you won’t have to manually rename your files every time you’re finished downloading them.
Sickbeard uses the TVDB to identify TV shows, find out how many episodes they have and determine when they originally aired. It even pulls down a short episode summaries, which is useful for determining which episodes you’ve seen and which ones you’ve missed.
In addition to adding helpful information to its interface, Sickbeard’s metadata capability also attaches episode summaries, posters, banners and other useful info to your files.
Sickbeard’s long list of compatible services is pretty impressive. Sickbeard can be configured to send out notifications to the following home theater systems: Kodi, Plex, Network Media Jukebox, Synology Indexer and PyTivo. Plus, it can connect to notification services like Growl, Prowl, Libnotify, Pushover, Boxcar and Notify My Android. It can even post tweets to Twitter and update Trakt.
Sickbeard’s download page gives you two main ways to get Sickbeard: the Windows installer and the python source code.
The Windows installer is by far the easier way to get going with Sickbeard. The Python option is more cumbersome, but it does give you a way to use Sickbeard on just about any type of operating system.
If you’re on Windows, all you have to do is click the download button to grab the latest Sickbeard zip file from the Sickbeard archive. When the download is finished, unzip the file and run sickbeard.exe to start Sickbeard in your browser.
- Note: Don’t worry that Sickbeard releases are marked as unstable. Sickbeard’s developer has been issuing “unstable” releases since 2010. The latest version of Sickbeard worked just fine overall when we tested it out. But, as always, proceed at your own risk.
On other platforms
If you’re not using Windows, you’ll need to perform a slew of extra steps to install Sickbeard.
Step 1: Get Python
Python is a programming language that supposedly is “fast, powerful and plays well with others,” but getting acquainted with it as a beginner is no easy task. You can get all the basic Python files you need via the Python 2.7 installer, which is available as a free download on the Python website.
The Python 2.7 Installer looks like this:
Step 2: Download Sickbeard’s source code
Grab Sickbeard’s source code and then proceed to step 3.
- FYI: A program’s source code is the set of commands that allows it to run. If you wrote some commands into a text document, the file that you’d end up with would be your source code. To run your program, you’d need to transform your source code file into an executable file. Executable files contain machine code and other blobs of data that computers can understand.
Step 3: Create a Sickbeard executable file
After you have the Sickbeard source code, you’ll need to get some type of code generation tool to turn the source into an actual program that you can run. The official Sickbeard installation guide shows you how to use Cheetah to turn your Sickbeard source code into an executable if you’re on Linux or Mac.
Here are some other tools you can use to create your Sickbeard executable:
- Gordon McMillan’s Python installer (cross-platform)
- Anthony Tuininga’s cx_Freeze (cross-platform)
- Thomas Heller’s py2exe (Windows)
- Bob Ippolito’s py2app (Mac)
Step 4: Run Sickbeard
Once you’ve compiled Sickbeard, click the executable file and Sickbeard will appear in your browser.
Getting Started with Sickbeard
Getting Sickbeard installed is only half the battle. In order for Sickbeard to actually work, you’ll have to install some extra stuff and go through a detailed configuration process.
- The first thing you have to do is install an NZB downloader. (Use SABnzbd for best results.)
- Next, you have to tell Sickbeard which NZB downloader to use.
- Finally, you have to configure an NZB search engine from within Sickbeard.
Here’s a step-by-step guide that’ll show you how to get Sickbeard up and running.
Step 1: Install and configure SABnzbd
Though there are a few other NZB downloaders that are supposedly compatible with Sickbeard, SABnzbd is the only one that actually seems to work.
- First go to the SABnzbd website and download the SABnzbd installer.
- Then, install SABnzbd using all the default options in the installation wizard.
- Next, open SABnzbd and click the gear icon to enter the settings menu.
- Now, click the servers tab and create a new server. Enter in your Usenet account information. (If you don’t have Usenet yet, we recommend that you sign up with NewsHosting.)
- Finally, click the general tab and copy your SABnzdb API key (you’ll need it to hook SABnzdb up to Sickbeard).
Step 2: Hook SABnzbd up to Sickbeard
Now that you’ve installed SABnzbd, it’s time to connect it to Sickbeard.
First, go back into Sickbeard and use the Config menu to open up Search Settings. Then, scroll down to NZB Search and select SABnzbd from the menu. Your screen should now look like this:
Paste your API key into the box next to SABnzbd API Key – and you’re good to go.
Sickbeard will now automatically kick NZB files over to SABnzbd when it’s time to download them. But there’s still one last thing you need to configure to get Sickbeard up and running: your NZB search engines.
Step 3: Tell Sickbeard how to search for NZB files
For Sickbeard to work properly, it needs a way to search for NZB files. For best results, we recommend that you configure and activate lots of NZB search engines. You may take a small performance hit for adding a pile of different search engines to Sickbeard, but you’ll also gain access to a lot more content.
- Open up Sickbeard and use the Config menu to go to Search Settings.
- Scroll down to Provider Priorities and click all the check boxes except NZBs.org and OMGWTFNZBs to activate all of Sickbeard’s working NZB search engines.
- Next, scroll down bit more to Configure Built-in Providers and pull up Usenet-Crawler.
- Now, hop over to usenet-crawler.com and create a free account. Then, open up your profile and copy your Usenet Crawler API key.
- Finally, paste your Usenet Crawler API key into Sickbeard.
Note: In addition to Usenet Crawler, the Configure Built-in Providers menu gives you the option to use OMGWTFNZBs.org and NZBs.org. However, as mentioned above both these domains are dead and gone – so don’t worry about configuring them.
Adding a TV show
Reminder: Flixed.io does not support software piracy, and bears no responsibility for what you decide to do with the contents of this article.
Step 1: Look up a show using the TVDB
One of the best things about Sickbeard is that it can hook into TVDB. TVDB is an open and free database of TV show series.
Click the Add Shows link on the top of the page and then type a TV show into the box. Sickbeard will look up the show in the TVDB.
You should not attempt to access copyrighted content that you don’t have the rights to. When we tested Sickbeard, we used it to access TV episodes that were in the public domain.
Step 2: Point Sickbeard to a download location
Click new to add a parent folder for the download, and Sickbeard will automatically create a folder for it the first time you download an episode.
Step 3: Configure your download options
Next, you can decide whether or not to download SD quality episodes. You may also notice in this part of the process that by default, Sickbeard will mark episodes of shows that have already aired as “skipped.” Sickbeard won’t try to download skipped shows. If you want Sickbeard to download every episode that it can find, select “wanted” from the drop-down menu.
In the Post Processing section of the Config menu, you can tell Sickbeard to perform helpful tasks after your TV show download is complete.
One of the most interesting sections of the Post Processing menu is Metadata. Here you can add fanart, posters and more to your files.
In addition to Usenet files, you can also configure Sickbeard to search for and download torrents. Scroll down to the last section of the Search Settings menu to switch on torrent downloads.
Once you check the box, you’ll see a message from Sickbeard’s developer. If you click the link, you’ll find a page that lists out a few reasons why Usenet is better than torrenting.
After you’ve enabled torrents, you have to jump back over to the Search Providers section of the Config menu to connect some torrent search engines.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to add Pirate Bay and other popular torrent providers to Sickbeard’s default list. You’re stuck using Sickbeard’s rather disappointingly out-of-date list of default torrent providers.
Wrapping it up
Sickbeard can be a pain to configure, but the effort might be worth it – particularly if you use Usenet to download TV show content. Sickbeard’s powerful set of post-download tools may save you time, especially if you use programs like Plex to store and stream your files. The addition of torrent capability is also an interesting feature.
What do you think about Sickbeard? Let us know in the comment section below.