[mythtv-users] Best way to integrate a Netflix feed into Myth ?

Michael T. Dean mtdean at thirdcontact.com
Tue Aug 23 15:59:22 UTC 2011

On 08/23/2011 08:59 AM, Ronald Frazier wrote:
> On Tue, Aug 23, 2011 at 12:40 AM, Michael T. Dean wrote:
>> On 08/22/2011 06:34 PM, Ronald Frazier wrote:
>>> On Mon, Aug 22, 2011 at 2:28 PM, Michael T. Dean wrote:
>>>> it makes no sense to hook up a set-top-box Netflix player
>> ... [to a MythTV backend to record its output] ...
>>>>    to play a Netflix stream.
>>> So if I have 3 TVs in my house, and I have 1 device capable of
>>> streaming netflix to my TV, it doesn't make any sense to want to use
>>> that one device on my choice of the 3 TVs? The only option that makes
>>> sense is to dish out a few hundred dollars extra and have one hooked
>>> up to each TV? Granted, it may not be easy or pretty, or may not
>>> conform to the ToS, but to suggest it doesn't make any sense to want
>>> to do it?
>> OK, trimming is good, but when you trim out the entire point of my post,
>> it's not so good.
> Uhhh, that's not true at all. The part of the post I trimmed were 2
> links where the answer was basically "you shouldn't do that...spend
> some more money instead". And then my reply specifically addressed the
> suggestion that buying additional hardware is the only way you should
> do it.

The remainder after your trimming was, "it makes no sense to hook up a 
set-top-box Netflix player to play a Netflix stream."  My point was 
exactly opposite of, "Don't use a set-top-box Netflix player to play a 
Netflix stream," so it looks to me like your trimming lost the entire 
point of my post--that recording the output of a Netflix player *with 
MythTV* was not the way to go.  I realize it was unintentional, but I 
wanted to clarify that I did not say to not use a Netflix player.

>> I /seriously/ have no idea what you all want me to say.  MythTV
>> recording is /not/ the right tool for the job--and I don't think anyone
>> who has ever spent one minute trying to use a user interface through
>> MythTV recordings would disagree.
> No, I don't really care what you say about it. Say nothing. Say it's
> not the best solution or there's no easy/good way to do it. But do NOT
> suggest that someone shouldn't want to do it because it makes no sense
> just because there's a solution that involves spending more money.
> Mike, you are a wealth of knowledge to this forum, and you contribute
> good answers to more threads around here than anyone else I can think
> of. But you also often make posts that basically amount to "you
> shouldn't want to do it because I don't want to do it". Whether or not
> you intend to come off that way, I don't know, but that does seem to
> be the way some of your posts come off to quite a few people.
> But more to the point, aside from all of the above, the OP didn't
> actually say it had to be done in myth...he said on his myth system.
> And the person you were responding to when I replied had ALSO not said
> anything about doing it in myth...he was saying the question could
> just be asking how to do it on the hardware available without hooking
> up an extra device. You were the one that then redirected it back to
> the idea of recording it with the mythtv backend.

I think you're skipping a few pages in the history, there.  Feel free to 
re-read the thread: 
http://www.gossamer-threads.com/lists/mythtv/users/489552#489552 .

In the original poster's first 3 posts, he specifically said:

1) "A Blu Ray DVD player that acts as a Netflix client ? (capture the 
feed with a HD-PVR device ?"
2) "I need to "capture" the Netflix stream so that I can distribute it 
to the TVs around the house. "
3) "FWIW, I bought a Samsung 6500 DVD player with the Smart Hub features 
, ie it will connect to the Internet wirelessly and play Netflix 
content. ... I bought it with the intent to pair it with a HD-PVR and 
thus be able to capture the output from it when playing Netflix or DVDs. "

Now, AIUI, (and, yes, I'm going to completely ignore the ToU here) the 
HD-PVR is an analog video encoder.  So, "capture" with an HD-PVR will 
incur a few seconds of latency due to the buffers required to properly 
encode H.264 content, regardless of whether MythTV backend or some other 
program is being used to control the HD-PVR.

Unlike most of the posts in this thread, I was actually attempting to 
reply to the question the user had asked, and the approach the user had 

I tried to say it's not a good idea because it's not what MythTV is 
designed to do.  Sorry to rain on your parade, everyone, but that 
approach isn't ideal.

>   A very good answer
> to the question actually being asked (and an answer which someone
> already gave) was to do it in a VM. Semi elegant, doesn't require
> running to the backend to control it, and doesn't require buying a
> bunch of extra hardware.
>> Are you demanding that someone write
>> some new plugin to replicate PlayOn's (ToS-questionable, at the least)
>> server?  Are you trying to prove I don't care about users?  Are you
>> trying to say that the MythTV project has lost its focus?  Are you just
>> trolling?
> Wow. Where the hell did you come up with that? What posts from me or
> anyone else in this thread would even remotely suggest anything like
> that? The closest I can find are a couple of post where people
> essentially made a joke about the idea of mythical convergence,

Yes, that's exactly it.  Their "jokes" were replies to my saying that 
MythTV is not the right tool for the job seeming to imply that my 
pointing out reality is somehow contrary to the original purpose of MythTV.

>   but
> that was basically just aimed at the fact that you seemed to be
> crapping on the idea of someone wanting to do everything on the
> hardware available.

No, I was one of 2 who were the first to say that MythTV is not the 
answer, and that the OP should find something else to make it work.  
Here I'll give details I left out of my original post because I didn't 
think that it was necessary to justify my position to this level (but 
turns out on /this/ list I have to justify everything I say).

a) MythTV cannot have a Netflix player client because Netflix uses a 
Silverlight-provided DRM layer that means there are no GNU/Linux Netflix 
player/clients/APIs available for our use.
b) The Mono/Moonlight API does not support the DRM layer of Silverlight 
that Netflix uses, so it can't be used to run the official Silverlight 
Netflix Windows PC player software in GNU/Linux--meaning not even in a 
MythTV plugin.
c) Trying to use any user interface through a MythTV recording--or even 
an HD-PVR capture without using MythTV--will result in multiple seconds 
of latency between button press and changes appearing on screen.
d) MythTV is designed to work around a "channels air specific content at 
specific times" idea, so trying to use MythTV to record the output of a 
Netflix player would involve creating a "channel" for the Netflix player.
     1) Since the channel wouldn't have any guide data (unless the user 
faked it), Live TV will break the recording into segments at the top of 
and half-past the hour.  And, with the instability of Live TV program 
transitions, this would likely result in falling back to the main menu 
in the middle of watching something (at least once per movie, possibly 
multiple times), which would lead to a less-than-ideal experience.
     2) The user could choose to use manual recording rules to record 
the content to the Live TV recording group (so it will be automatically 
deleted after a day), but doing so would involve creating a new manual 
recording rule each time the user wanted to watch Netflix streaming 
shows--and the user couldn't start watching until after the manual 
recording rule was created.  When the user finishes watching, he will 
likely need to manually stop the recording--or else he's leaving his 
capture card tied up for no good reason.
     3) Any use of a MythTV capture device will affect the ability of 
the MythTV system to record the scheduled recordings, so the user may 
have have to either schedule his watching Netflix shows for times when 
he doesn't have other scheduled recordings or buy an extra HD-PVR (for 
the cost of a few set-top-box Netflix players).
e) The user, even if he's willing to live with the other issues, will 
need to come up with some approach of transmitting remote control 
messages to the set-top-box player.  This will either involve buying and 
setting up some IR repeater network, or some complex LIRC configuration 
(setting up a transmitter and remote control definition for the 
set-top-box player's remote as well as figuring out some way to receive 
remote control input on one receiver and re-send or "convert" that 
signal to the appropriate set-top-box client remote signal--basically 
building your own IR repeater), or finding some set-top-box Netflix 
player with an RF remote that is sufficiently reliable at the distances 
and with the walls between the viewing area and the player's RF receiver.
f) ... a bunch of other reasons that I'm sure I'm forgetting ...
z) Getting a set-top-box Netflix player is much easier--and since many 
STBs and TVs already come with Netflix support, using one directly may 
not cost much or any extra.

I really don't care if (and, again, I'm completely ignoring all ToS/ToU 
restrictions here, and I'm not suggesting any of these approaches, 
either) the OP sets up a VM on each of several $200+ MythTV frontend 
boxes to run an $80+ copy of Windows to use the Windows PC Netflix 
client, or sets up a VM on each of several $200+ MythTV frontend boxes 
to run a copy of ChromeOS to use the ChromeOS Netflix player client, or 
runs an Android emulator to run the Netflix Android app, or buys a $200+ 
video distribution system to allow selecting the set-top-box Netflix 
player output on the desired TV and sets up a means of sending the 
appropriate remote signals to the Netflix device in some other room, or 
buys a few extra cheap Netflix player boxes (for around $200+ for a few 
of them), or what.  The only thing I've been trying to say--but that the 
list (and not even the OP, just random people on the list) won't let me 
say without saying that "convergence isn't what it used to be"--is that 
MythTV video capture is not designed for distribution of an interactive 
user interface, so the OP will likely be much happier using something 
besides MythTV recording (or even HD-PVR recording without MythTV) to 
play Netflix streams on various TVs.

I really don't get why people think I'm so far off base saying that 
recording the output of a Netflix player device to distribute it around 
the house would be a less-than-ideal experience.

Anyway, I'm bowing out of this thread.  I've already provided my 
assessment of the OPs plan, and you all are welcome to encourage him to 
go down that path if you really like, or to read things into what I said 
in my posts.  I'll go off and do something productive--like work on some 
code to help make MythTV a better "mythical convergence" device--instead 
(and leave you to wonder if I mean the "new" mythical convergence).


More information about the mythtv-users mailing list