[mythtv-users] CableCard Chain.

Rob Davis rob at davis-family.info
Wed Jul 25 15:40:15 UTC 2012

On 2012-07-25 09:35, Simon Hobson wrote:
> Over here, there is still a mindset that Satellite TV == Sky, even
> though we have a very good FTA service (Freesat, DVB-S[2])) as well 
> as
> terrestrial (Freeview, DVB-T[2]). I think that (the sat==Sky bit) is
> now starting to change with the number of PVRs on the market.

However, over there, there is an acceptance that you can get a 
freeview/freesat dvr system from a supermarket or catalog(ue) store and 
plug it in without paying the sat or cable company anything to use it.  
Therefore, defining MythTV becomes easier to your average Brit.  Here, 
DVR means renting something from the cable company and that's it.  Tivo 
is a possible exception, but they require a monthly fee, so looks and 
feels like the same thing as paying a cable company.  OTA epgs are 
pretty much broken here and only provide a few hours if they work, so 
any manufacturer wanting to make a DVR has to buy a listing service from 
somewhere to enable scheduling, including us with MythTV (Schedules 

Cable in the UK feels different from here, as it's another way to get 
satellite tv, rather than here, where sat tv is another way to get cable 
tv.  Here, for years, you would get one box (maybe), but run the 
incoming cable into antenna cable wiring already installed around your 
house as they use the same connectors for antenna and cable (and sat).  
Most tv's could switch to "cable frequency" and pick up 60+ channels 
without a box.  That has now gone away for the vast majority of cable 
companies around the country and everyone is up in arms (they told 
people it was to do with going digital, even though new tv's can pick up 
cable style digital is unencrypted).  However, that never happened in 
the UK, and at connection level, the antenna plugs were different, so no 
one even thought about plugging the cable line into a TV.  For cable, 
you need a cable box, for sat, you need a sky box.  Sat/Cable boxes were 
just black boxes that "did their stuff" and no one cared about 

Freeview was the game changer, (introduced just as I left the UK) now 
you can get 50+ channels (30 watchable and many more akin to us cable 
channels than just big network channels) through your antenna (which 
every house already had, unlike the US where houses are built cable 
ready and very few have antennas).  I think most of my UK friends settle 
with a Sky/Virgin box (is there anyone else?) in their main room and 
freeview for other tv's plugged into the antenna, although many have a 
Freeview DVR which they bought outright for around $150.  The main 
reason for going from freeview to sky/virgin is sport or movies not more 
network channels.  Plus, subscription to sky/virgin is half the price of 
here, not including the tv license.

Freeview and freesat are completely unencrypted (with the exception of 
top up tv - which I don't know of a single subscriber) so 3rd parties 
can have a field day with a 2 week epg built into the stream.  Also, 
they use the same standard as most of Europe (and a lot of other 
countries) so your average chinese upstart company can build a pan 
european dvr box and expect it to work well enough.  This also means, 
getting MythTV (or VDR which I used when living in Italy) with UK 
digital signals is pretty easy compared to the US, where everything is 
non standard and encrypted.

I would love the plethora of OTA DVR boxes you have in the UK to be 
available to us here, and available at the same style of stores.  If 
they incorporated things like Netflix/Hulu I think they'd start to sell 
well. Especially if they didn't require a listings service, or it was 
cheap like Schedules Direct.  Tivo had a good deal going with an antenna 
and lifetime membership for OTA, but it was still priced higher than the 
average person thinking of cord cutting would be willing to pay. (IMHO).

Just my thoughts having lived in both places.  I would much prefer the 
UK setup to the US one, even though all our OTA channels are HD.  
Widescreen PAL looks so much better than SD NTSC.

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