May I assume that you're aware of both Hulu and Netflix plugins for WMC? There may be some more fully featured TV streaming plugins for XMBC. I use WMC myself, so can't give you details on XBMC, just pointing you to one possible route to take.
Amazon has a nice selection for streaming TV episodes though you'll have to pay to watch. That's how I get my Mythbusters fix.
Edit: there's also <shudder> iTunes. I've used their season passes to get premium channel series (HBO, Showtime, etc. when they're new. Problem is you have to play them in iTunes or Quicktime, not WMC.
TV streaming is a bit spotty and depends on the actual shows you are looking for.
Thanks for the quick reply. I should have given you more information, but wasn't sure what to say really. Here is what I have for now:
Base system is Dell Workstation WS390
Quad-Core Q9600 CPU
8 Gig DDR2 RAM
GeForce 7800 GTX video card
KWorld PC150U Hybrid ATSC Hybrid HDTV Tuner Card
2x500 SATA II Drives in Raid-1 Array
3.5" Floppy Drive
13-1 Media Reader Device
On-board Sound but supports surround 5.1
Windows 7 Ultimate
Using Windows Media Center as base application
Subscribed to HULU Plus & Basic Netflix
Have Digital Antenna attached
Internet is 18Mbps down / 1.5 Mbps up from UVerse.
I am looking for 99% TV channels that I would normally get on a cable service.
We do not watch any foreign or sports channels so no need for any of those.
I am also building a large NAS to rip and store our DVD library (about 400 or so). Obviously, I would want to access them via the HTPC.
With the current setup we are missing some of the basic channels (ABC & NBC for sure) and not all current episodes seem to show up. We do watch some of the older episodes and shows that are off the air, via HULU now.
I also want to setup the HTPC as a DVR and once I get it working well, I want to be able to play on two other non-HD TVs in the house via CAT5 LAN.
I have tried to make Media Portal work with very little success. I've looked at SageTV, but it didn't seem to have all the things I wanted. I've also looked at Boxee devices but not sure that will do it either.
My current cable bill is about $180 a month, with $50 of it being my Internet charge. That leaves about $130 for TV. My plan is to have HULU & Netflicks (about $25/month) and the rest free services.
I've spend what seems like years going thru forums with information from 2005 to date. The vast majority is outdated and not applicable.
I'm hoping someone can point me to services and/or applications that will pick up and organize the TV channels (as many USA as possible), provide easy playback of DVD movies from NAS and recording of multiple shows at once, for playback on one main HDTV and two non-HD TVs in the house.