[mythtv-users] Alternatives to Supporting schedulesdirect.org

Chris Petersen lists at forevermore.net
Wed Aug 8 08:40:43 UTC 2007

David Brodbeck wrote:
> I think that's because currently schedulesdirect.org is the only  
> place offering to sell.  When someone else decides to offer a  
> product, we can talk about whose is best.  Until then, it's kind of  
> moot, isn't it?

AFAIK, no one will.  It's not like we went straight to TMS to buy the
data.  We approached several different companies (and at least one
approached us).  We were basically told my most of them that TMS said it
would violate their contracts if they offered data to MythTV users
(FWIW, TitanTV was among them).  The other options were at the highest
end of the price options suggested by the users in this community (and
although we appreciate the helpful offers, we thought that the users
might revolt at the idea of a fixed-rate yearly price with no free trial

Aside from TMS, the only other option is GemStar (owns TV Guide), who
doesn't provide Canadian listings, and wouldn't return any emails or
phone calls.

TMS owns the data.  They control who gives data to whom.  They have
given Schedules Direct what we think is a pretty good deal on what
"retails" for an absurd amount of money.  Our deal isn't cheap, but it's
good.  And the more users who sign up, the faster we'll be able to drop
our prices.  TMS intentionally gave us a good deal; many people there
felt bad about taking down the Labs service, and they emphasized that
they wanted to work with a company managed by people from the FOSS
community, rather than just another for-profit commercial venture.	

If you don't want to pay a Schedules Direct fee, we're not making you.
We started this company because the user community (you!) asked us to.
It will cost money because, well, there was no way not to.  We tried as
hard as we could to find another no-cost service, but there was no
billion-dollar company stepping up to cover the high monthly fees that
TMS charges (although we did get a nice donation offer from Google to
help with startup costs -- I'll post more about that on the website).
Complaining isn't going to make us go away -- like you said, it's going
to make YOU go away.  Frankly, we don't expect that every single MythTV
user will be happy about having to pay for guide data, but we know that
a LOT of people are happy to pay a little (heck, we've even had people
offering to pay $10-15/month if it meant money going to people in the
FOSS community and not some big corp like TiVo -- and that's way over
any numbers we even thought about considering).

I really wish that I could share the fee structure so you all could
understand what we went through to make this happen (I'm still hoping
that TMS will eventually let us publish that info).

Some other questions answered:

OSS?  What code?  This is a data service.  Just like Zap2it Labs, there
will be an XML file full of listings data.  The data protocols will be
well-documented and easy for new projects to integrate (remember, MythTV
is only one player in this game).

Other grabbers?  The least you "I'll go write my own grabber" people
should do is go out and see if someone else has already done so.  There
are already a handful of good "completely free" type grabbers out there
(hint, go read the gb-pvr forums).  Just remember that when you pay
nothing, you often get the matching level of service.  Maybe many of you
don't remember the pre-Zap2it days when you'd have to upgrade xmltv
every couple of weeks because the grabber broke (not to mention the
incomplete data).  Not to mention that warm fuzzy feeling you get for
violating the TOS of whatever website/service you're scraping.

Why PayPal?  Have you ever tried to charge credit cards online using
other services?  Most of them require that the business exist for 2+
years before they'll even talk to you.  PayPal has a well-documented API
that let us integrate it in a matter of hours (not days/weeks), takes
anonymous credit cards just fine (no need to create a PayPal account!),
and is well-respected by plenty of people.  Are we looking at other
options?  Yes, but the PayPal code is up and running, so that's what we
announced.  I'd much rather have a working solution that someone people
dislike than no solution at all.

Comments like "p at ying 4 d at ta is teh sux0rs" aren't constructive, so
PLEASE stop bickering.  If you don't want to subscribe, no one is
forcing you to do so.  If you want to write a new scraper, start a new
project or move it to the XMLTV list where it belongs.

Anyway, I'm tired and this email is really long.


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