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MythTV and obsolete TV

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Jul. 2nd, 2007 | 08:36 pm

Having MythTV makes TV watching almost bearable for me, you don't have to remember any particular time, and you can strip out a good fraction of the annoying commercials. (I have a deep irrational hatred of most commercials).

I was thinking that the TV executives who hate MythTV like things do have a point that if you strip out the commercials, it does cut into their paychecks. I don't agree that its "stealing", as I don't think you can steal something that's being dumped into the environment. However I can agree with the idea that commercial skipping does reducing the market value of a TV show to those who are paying for it (AKA advertisers who are paying for eyeballs).


However AppleTV hints at an interesting possibility, they offer a "subscription" which will somehow deliver an entire season of a show to your hard disk (in some severely DRMed format). It might be an interesting alternative to television being funded by advertisers, though I'm unlikely to submit to this part of Apples World Domination Plan.

However my girlfriend has complained about this model, as it appears she likes the TV as background noise, so she wants to watch "whatever is on". My guess is that means, she doesn't want to have to pick what things to watch. She also thinks that paying for all the TV that you want seems very expensive to her. Though given the frequency with which she watches reruns there might be some crossover point where the cost of a few hundred DVDs is less than some number of years of cable bill. (Also kicking the cable company gives me more choices for internet access).

I have seen hints online that some people have found that for modest TV viewing habits, the AppleTV + NetFlix is cheaper than cable, and can be pretty close to commercial free. The major downsides are that you have to wait and not everything is available this way yet.

There's this worry that "On Demand Video" might overloading the internet. My question is why does it have to be on-demand? If you've stepped into the world of Personal Video Recordings, as long as there's a big enough buffer does it really matter when something appears in your queue? My MythTV server (using the default MPEG2 encoding) currently has "283 programs, using 417 GB (7 days 23 hrs 19 mins) out of 466 GB (25 GB free)." Other encodings could hold significantly more.

Even if myth stopped recording, it would take us couple of weeks to get through that. Implying to me that something like NetFlix is a perfectly reasonable way of distributing media files to people who are used to PVRs.

I wonder if it'd work, where the first few episodes of a show are free, and then the producers switch to selling the rest of the work. (Somewhat of like what the recent Battlestar Galactica handled their launch).

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Comments {5}

prof_reed

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from: prof_reed
date: Jul. 3rd, 2007 05:29 am (UTC)
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The PVR revolution has completely changed my television watching experience. I end up watching more tv, because I can do it on my own schedule. But I fear for MythTV. With the demise of zapit it television listings, where will we get the scheduling info, the life blood of any television system? Let me know if you hear anything on that end.

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Diane Trout

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from: alienghic
date: Jul. 3rd, 2007 06:04 am (UTC)
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I've been using myth long enough to remember before zap2it. Once upon a time we used xmltv to do screen scraping. As the MythTV DataDirect wiki page describes. It was more inconvenient and error prone, but was "good enough".

There's other suggestions bouncing around on the mailing list, ranging from setting up a small co-op company to pay for the listings, to screen scraping.

I was just wishing that there was something like NetFlix / AppleTV that was more open that was available as yet another alternative.

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Aluta Corinthiaca Sumptuosa

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from: dragonblink
date: Jul. 3rd, 2007 06:57 am (UTC)
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I do in fact pick what to watch, but it's from an assortment of shows that varies depending on what day/time it is.

Whilst sitting at my computer, I channel-flip between Cartoon Network, Comedy Central, Spike, Discovery Channel, and Animal Planet. Odds are, there's something on one of those that's interesting enough to be background. When I'm flaked out in bed, the channel-flip sometimes enlarges to include Sci-Fi, Bravo, CNN and A&E.

The thing is, there's shows that I watch that I wouldn't necessarily want to pay money to own. CSI, for example -- I love the show, and I tend to watch it when it's on. But the re-watch value of that show is low for me; if I already know the ending, it has to be a particularly fun show for me to want to watch it again. I've seen the furry ep like four times, I change the channel now when it comes on.

Or Voyager, which is just interesting enough to be background noise (or "lying down with back going rar" noise) but there's no way in hell I'd buy a single season.

The shows I pay money for are shows I miss that aren't on TV anymore (like Voltron and Strangers With Candy) or shows with crazy-high replay value (like Red Dwarf). If I had no cable, my TV-as-background-noise options would be limited to selecting a DVD, throwing it into the player, and hitting play. Then replacing it when it finishes. Sometimes I do that (like the other night when I listened to the Logan's Run commentary track while sketching) but for the most part, cable TV is better for that purpose. It's on 24/7 and constantly changing. Sometimes it surprises me, like when I discovered Shin Chan.

In an ideal world, people could get cable plans a la carte, with only the channels they want. I don't give a crap about QVC or Telemundo/Univision or four billion sports channels or Korean TV. The nine channels I've named here are the only ones I use -- and I could easily trim a few off that list. Hell, I would be content with just Cartoon Network, Comedy Central, Spike and Discovery Channel. But then the cable companies wouldn't get rich making people pay for channels they don't watch. QQ.

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Diane Trout

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from: alienghic
date: Jul. 3rd, 2007 04:57 pm (UTC)
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I have a near complete inability to do anything else while a TV is on. I vaguely remember when we got our first 12" black and white TV (which lasted us long enough, that I was shocked when I learned that the original star trek was actually in color).

With out growing up with a TV in the background I never learned to tune it out.

To further my difficulties relating to TV, I'm also something of an intellectual snob. I tend to look down on entertainment that isn't intellectually challenging. These days lots of books fail that threshold too, which is why I think most of my recreational reading consists of various futurist blogs.

(The problem with that tendency is if I let myself follow it completely I end up completely unable to talk to anyone around me.)

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no, YOUR mom

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from: theinfamousmom
date: Jul. 3rd, 2007 05:10 pm (UTC)
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I was going to say "Channel flipping, I know whose kid she is," but I am also all for a-la-carte cable channel selections.

BTW, I thought we had the Frankenstereo problem dealt with for all time in my favor when we got the new cable-company DVR and it wouldn't play back through the Frankenstereo, but F'zer is adamant that he still wants to do it anyway. And he won't hear of just putting the cable audio through the stereo for some F'zer reason inexplicable to us mere mortals.

More hilarity no doubt to ensue, same bat time, same bat channel....

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