Friday, August 31, 2007

Last Day for free TV Guide for MythTV GBPVR and MediaPortal

As I've mentioned before, tomorrow is D-Day for those of you who use MythTV, Media Portal and GBPVR along with Zap2It Labs free TV guide data. Beginning September 1st (TOMORROW), Zap2it Labs will cease offering the free TV guide data those HTPC programs have been relying on (Note: this doesn't affect Snapstream BTV, Sage TV or MCE users as those software companies already pay for their guide service).

Here are your options as of today:

Option 1: Schedules Direct is a newly formed, non-profit organization that provides raw U.S./Canadian tv listing data to Free and Open Source Applications. Those applications then use the data to provide things like PVR functionality, search tools, and private channel grids.
The cost of the service is currently US$15/3 months with a 7 day trial payable via paypal. Thier plans are to lower the price by the end of the term, so recurring subscriptions are not yet offered.
The data is provided under license by Tribune Media Services.

Option 2: CTPVR is a maker of a lesser-known pvr software that is now offering a TV Listings xml feed for Free and Open Source Applications. Their pricing is $3.50 for monthly plan or $30.00 for a one year prepaid plan that comes to $2.50 per month. I hadn't heard of this one until Brad Linder at TVSquad mentioned it last week.

Option 3: Screen Scrape - There are some who are trying to screen-scrape from one of the following services websites: Zap2It, TitanTV, Yahoo, TVGuide. There are a few problems with this, first you're likely violating the Terms of Service for the website that you're scraping. Secondly, any change in formating on the site you are screen-scraping from will break the feed which is annoying to say the least. Another problem is that once many users start scraping a web page every day it can put a drain on the website and likely will cause that website administrator to fight the scrapers.

Option 4: Use the EIT. In the USA, EIT data is supposed to contain at least 12 hours of accurate data for the digital stations. Only a few broadcasters provide anything more than that, and some broadcasters don't even provide the legally required EIT data.

If you don't like paying for the guide by-the-month, you could always give one of the commercial Home Theater PC software makers a try. I use Snapstream's Beyond TV myself, but there is also SageTV or if you're a glutton for Vista punishment, you could use MCE.