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Television Media Software The Almighty Buck Linux

MythTV Scheduling Service Reveals Pricing 236

An anonymous reader writes "A group of open source developers have been working behind the scenes to create a new service known as Schedules Direct to provide affordable scheduling data for North American users of MythTV. Today, they've announced an initial pricing plan of $15 for a 3 month block, non-recurring. Details are still fairly light at the moment, but there's a mailing list and a FAQ available on the site — one notable tidbit is that the developers 'expect pricing to drop by the end of the initial term. Our goal is $20/year.' This comes weeks before the planned shutdown of Zap2it Labs' Data Direct service mentioned previously."
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MythTV Scheduling Service Reveals Pricing

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  • $5/mo? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Hmmm... that's what I pay for my TiVo.
    • Re:$5/mo? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Apogee ( 134480 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @05:51AM (#20180447)
      That's right, it's what you pay for your TiVo.


      * Not everybody has access to the services TiVo provides (they're not operating world-wide, and alternatives at least around here (in Switzerland) are nowhere near $5/mo, but are bundled with digital TV)

      * Some people prefer an open-source alternative, not only to the PVR itself, but also for the data source

      * Screen scraping works. Sort of. Sometimes. As soon as your scraper gets popular, the web site will change its layout to foil scraping attempts, and you can start new. It's an arms race, unfortunately, and there's no real way out of it. The networks and content providers jealously guard their data, and only license it to redistributors.

      * Schedules Direct is such a licensing partner. Instead of distributing the data in proprietary format, they use standard XML. That is good.

      and, most important of all:

      * If you had read TFA (or even the freaking post), they're aiming to drop the price. For now, they have no idea how popular their service will be, but want to make sure they don't create a financial sinkhole. The folks behind this are from the MythTV and XMLTV community, and I'd be surprised if they see this as a get rich quick scheme. They're too realistic for that.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dwandy ( 907337 )

        Screen scraping works. Sort of.
        Has anybody ever thought about capturing/OCRing the digital guide itself? My cable-co provides a listing that I can cycle through ... could this be automated and 'scraped' (OCR'd) on a scheduled daily basis? This would always give you seven days of future listings...
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Afrosheen ( 42464 )
          That assumes the listings are valid. Here in Dallas on Time Warner, not only is there a permanent 5 minute skew on every recording (sometimes 10 minutes), some shows have TBA listed and some are consistently just wrong.

          The cable co. is the last entity I'd trust to get this data from.
  • Commercials? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mitchskin ( 226035 ) <mitchskin@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:48AM (#20178939)
    I'd be willing to pay to get a machine-readable schedule of shows. But I'd certainly be willing to pay more for a machine-readable record of exactly when the commercials were.

    Not that that's likely to happen any time soon.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 )
      I thought that MythTV basically zaps all the commercials, except sometimes at the beginning and the end, I was told that all the ads in the middle of the video are effectively gone.

      Getting the timing of the commercials is not very likely, I don't see it as an acceptably foolproof means of blocking the ads.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Mr_Perl ( 142164 )
        In reality, at least with my antenna based TV which is sometimes a little fuzzy, myth only catches half of the commercials, but there are no false positives at least. A shared commercial position database would be a very interesting proposition for me.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Hoplite3 ( 671379 )
        Myth uses a series of tests to try to flag commercials (spikes in audio volume, the presence of all-black frames, logo detection, scene-change detection, etc), then skips the flagged portions during playback. On some shows, it flags the commercials perfectly. For instance, on Iron Chef, commercial breaks start with the iron chef logo shrinking to nothing on a black screen and breaks return with the logo growing from nothing to full screen. Myth nails this, so it just looks like the logo goes out and then
        • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

          by Dachannien ( 617929 )
          It throws fits with shows like X-Files where half the show is in the dark. Mulder and Scully go into a dark room, and boom, it flags it as a commercial.

          I've turned off the auto-skip, but I still let it flag the commercials. It's pretty easy to reach over and mash the Z key whenever a commercial starts.

      • A properly configured, current version of Mythtv does exactly that. If you are watching commercials on Mythtv, you are doing it wrong. It has a fairly sophisticated process of monitoring the video for subtle changes that indicate a commercial break, and it's very very accurate.
        • by jedidiah ( 1196 )
          That's the trick.

          "Properly configured" varies from channel to channel. I think they actually try to make it harder on anything trying to detect commercials.

          OTOH, 30 second skip is always available and always will be. Same goes for fast forward.

          The cable companies and broadcasters will always be at odds with you skipping commercials. Tivo Corp will come along for the ride here since it needs to play nice with those guys to get cablecard access.

          A Tivo will always be somewhat suspect in this regard. Cable comp
      • Well, Myth "marks" commercials in the recorded programs, and you can set an option to skip the marked commercials during playback. The commercial detection isn't 100%, but it's very, very good.

        They leave the commercials in the recording in case Myth marks part of the show as commercial, so that if you realize that it skipped part of the show, you can turn off auto-commercial-skip and watch the skipped part.
    • Commercial breaks aren't always planned exactly in advance, especially for sporting events.
  • confused.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doppler00 ( 534739 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:50AM (#20178957) Homepage Journal
    So you pay for satellite or cable TV, but the television networks are un-willing to provide a few bytes of information in the form of scheduling information for future programming? I mean, do they want people to pay for their content and watch advertisements or not? $5/month for the few kb worth of data you receive is ridiculous as far as I'm concerned. The TV networks should just get together and standardize on some television scheduling format and release the data themselves.

    After all, it would be in the best interests of their customers, the viewers.
    • Re:confused.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GenP ( 686381 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:53AM (#20178983)
      Wait, what? I thought the advertisers were the television networks' customers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      So you pay for satellite or cable TV, but the television networks are un-willing to provide a few bytes of information in the form of scheduling information for future programming?

      Yeah, I never understood this. My cable box can download guide data from the cable company, but a TiVo/MythTV/whatever can't? I'm not paying again for data that's already available on my cable system.
      • >>> I'm not paying again for data that's already available on my cable system.

        Then your problem is with your cable company. Try phoning them up and explaining to them that you're already paying for the EPG, and that you want to use it on another device.

        Post back what you find out.
      • by debest ( 471937 )

        My cable box can download guide data from the cable company, but a TiVo/MythTV/whatever can't?

        Yup. And the reason why actually makes sense (from the cable/dish company's point of view). The guide data from your digital box is formatted to be easy to read for a human, while the data for TiVo/Myth/whatever must be formatted to be easy to read for a computer.

        Humans can use the guide to look up the programs that they want to see. They might also watch the commercials with the programs. This is good for the

    • Re:confused.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by qbwiz ( 87077 ) * <john&baumanfamily,com> on Friday August 10, 2007 @12:58AM (#20179017) Homepage
      Well, if they're providing the data to someone who's using mythtv, it's quite possible that that person won't be watching the advertising.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hcdejong ( 561314 )
        Well, if they're providing the data to someone who's using mythtv, it's quite possible that that person won't be watching the advertising.

        That's quite possible regardless of the hardware in use. I've still got a VHS VCR, and I skip all commercials. I've hardly watched any live TV for about 10 years now. MythTV makes this a bit more likely, but then again, so does any harddisc recorder available today.

        Besides, the scheduling information isn't what makes it easy to skip commercials.

        The networks normally prese
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by whoever57 ( 658626 )

      I mean, do they want people to pay for their content and watch advertisements or not?

      As long as it is only a small number of people, they don't care if you don't watch the ads -- there is no way to gather statistics on whether you watch the ads or not, so it is ultimately the advertisers' problem. If a large number of people skip ads, then it would affect pricing for adverts which would make it the cable companies' problem.

      So, bearing that in mind, the cable companies want you to pay them as much as po

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jafafa Hots ( 580169 )
      The viewers are not their customers. The advertisers are their customers. The viewers are their PRODUCT. (The shows are the bait.)
      but your point still stands... the listings should be provided free, it would be good business. Breadcrumbs leading to the bait, etc.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ktappe ( 747125 )

        The viewers are not their customers. The advertisers are their customers. The viewers are their PRODUCT. (The shows are the bait.)
        So under that analogy, fish have to pay for directions to the worm on the hook?
        • by S.O.B. ( 136083 )

          So under that analogy, fish have to pay for directions to the worm on the hook?

          Yes, they pay for it with their life.
    • How many times must it be said? The viewer is the product, their time watching adverts is what is sold to the advertisers.
    • So you pay for satellite or cable TV, but the television networks are un-willing to provide a few bytes of information in the form of scheduling information for future programming? I mean, do they want people to pay for their content and watch advertisements or not? $5/month for the few kb worth of data you receive is ridiculous as far as I'm concerned. The TV networks should just get together and standardize on some television scheduling format and release the data themselves. After all, it would be in the best interests of their customers, the viewers.

      I'm afraid you've got the wrong end of the stick. The viewers are their product. The advertisers are their customers.

    • by rmcd ( 53236 ) *
      Keep in mind that Zap2It (and I presume Schedulesdirect) provides more than just the name of a show and the broadcast time. There is a program summary and a program ID sufficient for myth to know which episodes it has recorded. My understanding is that the summary at least is added by the commercial schedule providers.

      You're right of course that OTA broadcasters could and should provide free program listings in some common format. However as things have evolved there is so little demand for such a service t
  • 5bux a month? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CrAlt ( 3208 )
    My cable co charges $7.50 a month for DVR service. I'll pay the extra $2.50 not to have to deal with building my own. And if it brakes they give me a new one.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Kadin2048 ( 468275 )
      And if it brakes they give me a new one.

      Naw, if it brakes you should probably take it to Meineke...
    • by macraig ( 621737 )
      Why are you a Slashdot reader, I wonder? You exhibit the poor spelling trait of a geek, but not much else.
    • by jridley ( 9305 )
      Having played with the cable company's DVR, and having used Myth at home for a couple of months now, I'd happily pay double what the cable company is charging to use Myth instead. Myth gives me what I want, the cable company gives me what they want me to have. There's a large difference between the two.
  • Site scraping works. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Frogbert ( 589961 ) <[frogbert] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday August 10, 2007 @01:02AM (#20179055)
    Whilst a pay service might work well the fact is that site scraping can be very effective and provide very good results.

    Australian users have never really had guide data available to them, so we have basically relied on either IceTV [icetv.com.au], a (very well done) for-pay data source, or ozTivo [tuhs.org]. Recently Australian users have had a new resource, Shepherd [whuffy.com].

    Shepherd is basically a bunch of scripts that are automatically updated and designed to read quite a few websites and data sources (including IceTV and ozTivo) and provides the best quality data I've seen so far. The set up is relatively easy, if you can get MythTv set up you can certainly get Shepherd set up, and doesn't require ongoing maintenance, once you get it working the script will keep itself up to date.

    The TLDR version: Site Scraping can and does work well.
    • How many different cable providers does Australia have, though?

      Where I live, if I drive for 20 minutes in any direction (less if I drive west), I am in a new zone.
      • by Frogbert ( 589961 ) <[frogbert] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday August 10, 2007 @02:01AM (#20179343)
        Australia, as far as I know, only has one major cable provider (Foxtel) but that is only available in the capital cities. Outside capital cities there is one major commercial satellite television provider (Austar) a bunch of smaller commercial satellite providers (SelectTV etc.). There is also free to air satellite television (Aurora) that services all areas that are too remote to have proper over the air FTA, this map here [aurorasatellite.com.au] shows some areas where it is possible to get service, however there are in actual fact many more areas that are transmitted on Aurora for people who live in places that make it impossible to get the over the air broadcasts they would otherwise be able to. That about covers the bulk of the sat services available to most Australians. Next there are the FTA stations, these are basically broken up into capital city zones and regional zones, so there is a Melbourne schedule and a Regional Victoria schedule for example. This doesn't fully reflect the situation though because many regional broadcasters deviate slightly from the major network schedules, especially in the larger states such as Queensland or Western Australia. An example of this is that the Townsville/Mackay/Cairns television schedule differs slightly from the Rockhampton Schedule. So yes we have many many different providers and it is all a very complex system, and it is indeed possible to drive 20 minutes in one direction and have your television schedule ever so slightly screwed. Screen scraping will always be a game of cat and mouse, however a bunch of scripts like Shepherd will always work faster then the television sites can change their designs, and they would all have to make their script breaking changes simultaneously to even take down a persons data for even a day.
  • This is supposed to be an improvement over TiVO and others by *how*?
    • Because it allows us to continue to use our MythTV systems without having to rely on screen-scraping.

      You may like TiVo, it certainly looks nice, easy to use. But I enjoy having my Myth box because it can do so many more things, even if it is an order of magnitude more difficult to set up (but not necessarily to use). Same as I appreciate OS-X, but I think I'll stick with linux not for the price and commodity hardware, but for the customizability and the ability to tinker. Same reason as I bought my Buffa
    • The list is pretty big... You control the hardware, so you can put as much disk space in it as you like. There is automatic commercial detection and skipping. As of 0.20, there is support for archiving shows to DVD. That's just the beginning of the list, mythtv does a lot more than just TV afterall.
      • by dreamt ( 14798 )
        Ok, but I can put as big of a drive into my Tivo as I want, and I can archive shows to DVD via Tivo Desktop and a DVD burning utility, unless of course, I have one of the Tivo boxes that comes with a DVD burner, in which case, I can do it right from the box.
        • by jedidiah ( 1196 )
          My MythTV has 4 big SATA drives on the backend. Plus it can use whatever frontend storage is available (such as it is). I can also add another drive to my backend (still room in that case). When that case is done I can continue with consumer NAS device or build one from scratch from another PC.

          I've also got a 500GB external HD laying around that I could attach somewhere in the system.

          Now that's 2.5TB of what I've already got attached, plus another TB I could put internal and the other 500GB that's just layi
          • by Azghoul ( 25786 )
            Nothing personal, but seriously, how much of what you watch do you really want to keep forever? How much is worthwhile??

            I love the idea of Myth, but I get everything via DirecTV these days (Sunday Ticket) and I really don't care to save shit that I've seen... how much time do you Myth guys spend in front of the tube? :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 10, 2007 @01:22AM (#20179153)
    But before you do, let me just fill you in on how the Australian experience went, and why paying may not be such a bad thing.

    Historically, there's been no XMLTV guide data source for Australians. So there have been a litany of screen scrapers that downloaded guide web pages, massaged them into XMLTV format, and passed them on to MythTV and friends.

    The only problem is, the program guides are controlled by the TV networks, and the TV networks hate us. Ouch, but true. They've made the leap of logic that, if we had program guide data on our DVRs, we can skip the commercials.[2] So they've been arguing that they own the copyright to the guide data[3] and any unauthorised use of it (i.e. screen scraping) is a breach of their terms.

    The only commercial company to publish guide data for DVRs is IceTV [icetv.com.au] and they've been a lawsuit magnet from abovementioned TV networks. Not many people would pay a monthly subscription to something that could be killed at any time.

    Meanwhile, in screen scraping land, it's been a game of cat-and-mouse. Find a web site that publishes guide data. Write a screen scraper (or wait for someone else to). In a few months, notice that nothing's been scheduled for a few days - the screen scraper has broken because they've (intentionally) changed the format to deter this. Find another web site. Repeat.

    They did all sorts of things to deter us. Obfuscation through JavaScript. Only allowing n page views per hour. After they converted all the guide details to GIFs, we gave up. Most people have moved to IceTV or ozTiVo [tuhs.org].

    The ozTiVo guide is an interesting idea. It's essentially a wiki that people manually fill in with guide data. Then you can use its XMLTV interface to get guide data out. You're reliant on other people to fill it in, and (due to above copyright issue in Australia) a lot of program details are generic or omitted. But it's workable. This is a model which other people may be interested in setting up.

    Fortunately for IceTV, in the last few days, it won its court case [smh.com.au] and is now happily legit.

    So, to sum up, we in Australia are actually happy to pay for quality guide data. Because we know the alternatives. If someone wants to set up a screen scraper, good luck to you - we fought the good fight and lost, but maybe you won't.


    [1] Ladies too!
    [2] No, I don't know how they came up with that either.
    [3] In Australia, this has historically been a grey area.
  • When you have youtube! [youtube.com]
  • by maybenot ( 1036554 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @02:09AM (#20179391)
    I finally gave up on MythTV. Just never worked quite right. I bought a ReplayTV 3000 (similar to tivo) used for $10, popped a 80gig i had lying around, downloaded the replay TV software to the new hard drive and booted it up. Works great and the wife loves it. To download the TV shows it hooks into the phone line, in this case Vonage and dials up a local number to download the show info / tvguide. All the replay 1000, 2000, and 3000 devices all have a lifetime subscription. When I got it running,, the messagges inbox had mail from 1999 the lasttime it was used so im not worried about replaytv shutting me off. If they did, i paid $10 for the unit. Big whoop. MythFV was fun, but this old unit always works,, gets free lisitings and i dont have to mess with the software.
  • by steve-san ( 550197 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @02:26AM (#20179463)
    If you're willing to use a Windows box for DVR, I'll eagerly suggest BeyondTV.

    I had tried all the free alternatives -- MythTV, GB-PVR, Mediaportal... none of them were particularly friendly to work with or stable, for that matter. And what good is a DVR if it crashes before it can record your shows??

    IMO, the Zap2ItLabs discontinuation was one of the best sales pitches for BeyondTV. One-time software purchase, and no subscription fees. It works flawlessly with my HDHomeRun dual tuner (also highly recommended), and even came with a "free" RF remote (looks like they're still running that special at snapstream.com).

    Yeah, there's no capturing encrypted signals, but I have the MOST basic cable package anyway, just to get all the major networks, plus Discovery & a few others.
    Many folks (even Comcast's cable monkeys) don't realize that the cableco's must (according to FCC) transmit the rock-bottom basic cable package *in the clear* (so no special cable box is needed); you get this digital signal when you order the most basic analog package. So for 18 bucks a month, I can receive/record all the major network digital HD goodness I can stand, with commercial skipping in BeyondTV. Place shifting? No problem. It's my MPEG2 file...

    My one little way of giving the Finger To The Man.

  • and you're compiling from source... don't. Don't compile from source then complain that installing it is difficult. Use a modern distro and install via packaged binaries - which can usually be done with one command (or a few clicks).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nagora ( 177841 )
      and you're compiling from source... don't.

      Actually, installing from source under Gentoo is probably the single easiest way to install MythTV. I've had less trouble with Gentoo than with binary installs, although they were a year or two ago now so things might have picked up.


  • by davmoo ( 63521 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @02:58AM (#20179599)
    I really do hope this succeeds.

    My biggest problem with the MythTV route was reliable scheduling information. I don't want to have to bother with the tedium of tweaking screen scraper scripts every other day. I gave up on the homemade TV box a long time ago and went with a TiVo. I bought in on one of their deals that with a three year commitment, the box was free. I like the TiVo method...tell it which programs I want at the start of the season, and then I can forget about it.

    If there were a *reliable* alternative for scheduling information that I didn't have to tweak every time I turned around, even if there is a fee, I'd be tempted to try MythTV again.

    But until then, my TiVo is my best friend.
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )
      You haven't tried mythtv for nearly 4 years then. the minor changes needed did not cause you to tear down the box and some of the guys made it simple to fix automatically if you ran redhat or Fedora when changes came down the pipe.

      My problem with it was the past year Zap2it had lots of extended outages and a crapload of bad data.
  • I was going to choose mythtv over Tivo so that I _wouldn't_ have to deal with any additional ongoing charges over and above my regular cable bill. My cable company already has listings on its website... I wonder how difficult it would be to make changes to mythtv so that it could scrape my cable providers tv listings.
    • by Baumi ( 148744 )

      I wonder how difficult it would be to make changes to mythtv so that it could scrape my cable providers tv listings.

      You wouldn't need to make any changes to mythtv - all you'd need to do is change one of the existing xmltv screen scrapers to do just that. The xmltv scraper is a seperate tool that's not part of mythtv, so you wouldn't even need to update it when mythtv changes.

      The downside: You'd need to update it whenever you cable company changes its web site. No such hassle with the paid service.

  • by HuskyDog ( 143220 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @05:18AM (#20180287) Homepage

    Here in the UK we don't have any of these problems of TV listing availability and complicated html parsing scripts which break every week. The BBC have a special web page just for XMLTV downloads [radiotimes.com], and it doesn't just cover BBC channels, but practically every channel you can receive in the UK (check the channels.dat file for a full list). The only restriction is that the data can only be used for private non-commercial purposes.

    Of course, most of this is probably being paid for from our TV license fees which I know many Americans regard as being a terrible communist plot (some funding may come from the cover price of the Radio Times magazine).

    • Radio Times is published by the commercial arm and so shouldn't receive any licence fee money. The reason why they make this data available? They're just nice. Also they like to involve developers wherever they can. http://backstage.bbc.co.uk/ [bbc.co.uk]
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )
      No not communist. It's an evil Catholic plot to overthrow the Prodastants.

      Next thing you'll know is that members of your government will start turning Catholic to gain votes.
  • by DeanFox ( 729620 ) * <spam.myname@ g m a il.com> on Friday August 10, 2007 @07:12AM (#20180769)

    I'll sign up for the $15. Their announcement was honest and direct. They expect a $20 a year cost but they need to "over-charge" the first quarter to help guarantee coverage of their start-up costs. I understand that. I've started a business before. It's a gamble. It's a gamble for me too to support them.

    For me, it's only $15 to "see what will happen" and to support the community. If the cost drops to $20 a year like they anticipate I'll gladly pay a reliable data feed. 5 cents a day to "stick-it" to the cable companies and the advertisers and at the same time supporting the OSS community? It's a no brainer.

    If the costs stay at $5 a month then I'll need to re-think my cable needs. But still, if I'm going to pay $5 for Tivo with commercials, why not $5 for MythTV without commercials? Either way, I'll pay the $15 to get started and to see what happens. I've spent that much buying a friend and I coffee at Starbucks. I'll continue to support them if the cost drops to $20 a year. That's cheep for the return I'm getting.

    • by Rich0 ( 548339 )
      $5/month is a bit steep. That is what most commercial DVR services cost. However, Mythtv users often have to pay for multiple receivers if they want dual-tuners (which are pretty-much standard on commercial DVRs these days). That brings the price up to over $10/month in many cases with the extra $5 for TV listings.

      At $20/yr, however, it isn't a big deal. It looks like schedulesdirect is non-profit, so that should help keep prices down (as long as salaries don't get too high - technically you can probabl
    • by Pollardito ( 781263 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @09:00AM (#20181501)

      Either way, I'll pay the $15 to get started and to see what happens. I've spent that much buying a friend and I coffee at Starbucks.
      Starbucks-onomics makes a lot of things seem more tolerable :)
      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )
        Never mind Starbucks. ANY quality morning caffeine source is going to cost you more than 5 bux in a week. This includes "Big Gulp" style sodas or quality coffee that you brew yourself from beans.

        It's not so much a "Starbucks economics" as it is "non-Walmart economics" or "non-McDonalds economics".

        If you don't want to be a cheap bastard and suffer intolerable crap then you're probably going to have to spend a few dollars. This even goes for the systems you plan to run Linux on.
    • Me personally I'll gladly pay for this service. If you want something for free, then you can't expect it to always be free. If you want service, then be willing to pay for it even if you don't currently. There are exceptions, but generally this philosophy has served me well and stopped me getting up tight about things.

      Bear in mind also that the money that this service brings in is going to be used to continue to improve MythTV. It's also going to allow commercial MythTV boxes; something that was absolutely
    • by mosch ( 204 )
      Glad to see somebody is giving it a shot.

      I've long thought that the real solution to all this guide data nonsense was for somebody to start a company and make a deal with TMS to license the data. I guess somebody else had the same idea.

      Best luck to them!
  • They say that they buy their data from Tribune Media Services [tribune.com]. Where does TMS get the data from?

    There's lots of room for competition here. Others can buy from TMS. Or from where TMS gets the data. Or from TMS competition (who is that?).

    Or use a P2P system like the old CDDB [wikipedia.org]. If tens of thousands of people enter data for the next few days TV listings, then each person will have to enter only a few listings at random on average each day or so.

    "What's on TV?" are facts about the real world, like the days the ci
  • Digital TV standards tend to provide for meta-data to be broadcast along with the video data, E.g. DVB channels tend to carry an Electronic Programme Guide [wikipedia.org] data stream and all the FTA DVB-T channels in the UK seem to provide it. The US ATSC standards apparently provide for this too (no idea whether US digital broadcasters transmit such meta-data though).
  • by BobMcD ( 601576 ) on Friday August 10, 2007 @11:11AM (#20183123)

    I've been interested in this whole TV-on-the-PC scene since I first witnessed it on one of those infamous Toshiba desktops. It was cool back then, and it is still cool today.

    I used Media Center for about two years, and basically loved it. I purchased the extender for my Xbox and enjoyed that too. During this time I was watching Myth and hoping it would come along and improve the experience. Unfortunately, I just couldn't get it to run. It didn't like me, and I didn't particularly think much of it. We needed counseling...

    A friend of mine tipped me off to Ubuntu at about the 6.06 point. I was a die-hard RedHat fan, still pining for the days before Fedora was born, when things were simple, etc. Switching off of my bastard children of CentOS and Fedora was not looking too likely. Until that is I used Synaptec to install MythTV. It 'just worked'. Seriously. I've tweaked and tweaked and tweaked it since then, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't any more or less difficult for me than MCE was.

    The features that I'd miss from Myth, were I to switch are:

    1) Different sources have different schedules. I have ONE cable box, and a dedicated tuner just for The channels lower than 74 are captured by a separate dual-tuner card. This way the wife gets her movies, and the kids still get Spongebob and Pokemon. I get to have my cake and eat it too.

    2) Choice of endpoints. I can watch Myth content via the web (with a flash-mod to Mythweb), on my Ubuntu partition of my laptop as a frontend, on my Windows stuff with the MythTV player, and probably in a lot of ways I haven't thought of yet. There's no vendor standing there telling me 'no', and I love it.

    3) Freedom in general. I didn't like Myth's built-in-DVD player, so I use an external player. No one cared. No hacking was required. I just changed it. Likewise, I didn't want to stream gigabytes across the tubes, so I modified Mythweb to convert to flash videos instead. Much smaller and easier on the pipe-joints. I have a myriad of other choices waiting my preference should the default not fit my needs anymore. I LOVE that.

    4) Commercial skip. Annoying at times, but generally super pleasant. If you've been watching Fox lately, you might be aware that there's a Simpson's Movie in theaters. That is, if you've been watching Fox's commercial space it was likely tattooed on your eyelids. I back-spaced into one once to see the trailer and was shocked. That stuff was absolutely pervasive! I thought it was a nice testament to Myth that I mostly didn't have to endure that particular media blitz. And that's just that one show...

    5) Love. Myth to me still seems young. It reminds me of my kids. In that way, I feel like I'm watching a teenager enroll for his freshman year in High School. I'm a proud papa of my Myth solution at this point, and don't want to see it die or fade into obscurity.

    So yeah, I'll pay it. I'd love to see it go down, as it used to be free, but I understand that things with value are often exchanged for cash. Services included. And that's okay...

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin