[mythtv] Obtaining TV Listing Data and also Gist.com Closing

John Hurliman jhurliman at myrealbox.com
Thu Apr 24 11:43:19 EDT 2003

Our company is in the process of negotiating with TMS right now. They currently aren't prepared (in a technical sense, not financial) to offer tv listings under the "hobbyist license" the CTO proposed earlier. They offer web listings, which is not sold to you but licensed, and part of that license says you can not decode the html and modify it. Specifically you can't scrape the listings, even if they are on your own website. The also offer raw data of the listings, under Tribune Media Services but not under the zap2it subsidiary. This raw data is $10,000 a month plus a small per subscriber fee. Meaning the data is _licensed_ to you, you can't reformat it in XMLTV or some other format and resell their data. It makes sense business-wise, one customer would pay the $10,000 a month, turn around and sell it in xmltv format for $1,000 a month to 15 people, you get the picture. This "raw" data is basically a comma-delimited text file format, very cryptic looking but easy to parse with regular expressions.

Very depressing news indeed.

John Hurliman

-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Javorski <mikej at carmelfly.com>
To: Myth-Dev <mythtv-dev at snowman.net>
Date: 23 Apr 2003 19:42:22 -0700
Subject: [mythtv] Obtaining TV Listing Data and also Gist.com Closing

Hate to bring up a negative, but just got through talking with several
people (including the VP of marketing) at gist. And they are shutting
down the site, most likely in the next week or so.. 

Best I can tell from their somewhat cryptic messages is that they can't
fund the website anymore. They indicated there is a slight chance they
may stay open, but the xmltv is just about guaranteed to disappear.

Another probable contributer is that Tribune Media aka TMS (the people
that gist, and just about every one else buys their listings from, and
actually the company behind zap2it.com which xmltv's tv_grab_na uses)
requested that they discontinue offering the XML service. TMS seems very
much against any "open" providers of "their" data.. I actually talked
with some people at digiguide.com about doing some kind of data
service.. Basically TMS will only let people send information in a
secure format (i.e. encrypted data files) which is what digiguide does..
If any of their user companies starts providing open protocols for the
data (even if it must be paid for) they slap their users and tell them
to stop or else. (this much I have gathered from the people at

Some things I have also learned from the people at digiguide, is that
TMS is under the impression that the second they allow people to use the
data openly (such as in something like MythTV) even if they pay for it,
then the data is going to show up on Kazaa. What are these people
thinking? TV listings aren't exactly the latest album from Eminem, not
to mention the fact that they are only good for a small period of time..
What really sux is that EVERYONE uses TMS for their US TV/Cable/Sat
listings.. And with TMS being overly paranoid about the whole XML thing,
there is not going to be a LEGAL solution for MythTV (at least for US
people).. (In case you ever wondered, XMLTV is not truly legit as far as
obtaining its info)

So anyway just wanted to let everyone know before they get too hyped on
gist (like I was starting to).

Isaac, have you found any leads on new sources for this data? Maybe we
kneed to go to TMS as a group and ask them if we can arrange for access
to the data. Problem is I doubt they are rigged for dealing with
hundreds of users accessing their servers, so an intermediary would be
required. To bad all the players are afraid to play.. Maybe we can get
them to make a xmltv access area for zap2it.com like gist.com had.. that
would be slick, but unlikely to happen.

- Mike

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