Schedules Direct

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Schedules Direct is an organization created by several developers of MythTV and other similar projects to provide program listings data as a replacement for the packaged Data Direct feed from the Zap2it Labs division of Tribune Media Services. The project was originally known as EasyTV Data, but was changed to Schedules Direct due to some concern over trademark infringement. The new project web site can be found at http://www.schedulesdirect.org/.

Schedules Direct announced its initial subscription pricing on their website on Thursday, 9-Aug-2007; they'll charge $15 per quarter, or $5 a month (though only billable in quarterly increments). They're not offering long-term subscriptions as yet, as they expect eventually to lower their pricing to $20/year or so, depending on demand.

The standard MythTV distribution supports the Schedules Direct data feed as of the 0.20.2 source release, which came out Friday, 24 August 2007. Binary packagers are likely to follow a tighter-than-usual build and release schedule given the circumstances (and we thank kindly those who do :-).

Original Announcement

Greetings from the newly-formed team at Easy TV Data,

This organization was formed by members of various software projects in response to the announcement from Zap2it Labs that they will be discontinuing the free TV listings service that they have been providing to the non-commercial free and open source communities for the last 3+ years.

We know that many of you are waiting on the edge of your seats to find out what's going on behind the scenes here, and we're just as excited to tell you, but we can't give you many details while we are still involved in negotiations. We can, however, let you know that we are actively working on a solution that will provide what we hope will be a smooth transition away from Zap2it Labs by the September 1 deadline. We will release more details as soon as we are able to do so, so please keep an eye on http://schedulesdirect.org/ for updates.

In the mean time, we are in need of a good lawyer who is familiar with business contracts and federal nonprofit law (preferably someone willing to work pro bono, at least initially). We are also looking for a good accountant (we are registered in Washington State) to help with any eventual financial/tax paperwork. If you are qualified and willing to help, please contact us at http://schedulesdirect.org/contact.php.


Thanks for sticking with us,

The Easy TV Data Board:

  • Isaac Richards, Chairman (MythTV)
  • Robert Eden (XMLTV)
  • Daniel Kristjansson (MythTV)
  • Kevin Odorczyk (MacProgGuide)
  • Chris Petersen (MythWeb)


More information will be added as it becomes available.

Frequently Asked Questions

As gleaned from the mythtv-users mailinglist:

Q). Who is funding this project?

  • (although we did get a nice donation offer from Google to help with startup costs -- I'll post more about that on the website). (Chris Petersen, 8/8/07)

Q). What will a subscription cost?

  • It will start at $15 per quarter ($5 per month) and this assumes a relatively low 10% take up rate. The more users, the lower the prices will become. A review of prices will be held after the first quarter. It is hoped that the price will eventually be around $20 for one year.
    • The rate was lowered to the target $20/yr in September 07; early adopters received extended terms on their subscriptions as well as some bonus days of data. Members of the mailing list inquired sharply as to what the consipracy was behind this behaviour... with their tongues firmly in their cheeks.

Q). What payment methods are supported?

Only PayPal at first, but other methods are in the works.

  • Are we looking at other options? Yes, but the PayPal code is up and running, so that's what we announced. (Chris Petersen, 8/8/07)
    • (This has apparently changed, based on the initial official announcement)
    • Google Checkout was announced in Sept 07.

Q). What is the schedulesdirect board cut of the profits?

Nothing

  • None of us are getting paid for this (in fact, it's been costing us money)
  • We all have full time "real" jobs, and some of us have even had to use up vacation time for this endeavor.

Q). Why not just accept credit card numbers directly?

  • No one involved with Schedules Direct wants to touch credit card numbers -- PayPal and other similar processors like Google Checkout will do all of that for us, and assume the risk of dealing with the security nightmare.

Q). Where will schedulesdirect be hosted?

  • a large ISP that happens to have a MythTV-using sysadmin (I'll let him identify himself and the company if he wants to).

Q). Where will the data be served from?

  • For now, the data distribution will actually be going through TMS's servers just like Labs did (although they're newer servers, and more of them),

Q). What about long-term or lifetime subscriptions?

  • We don't want to start offering long-term subscriptions (2 years, wtf?!) because we don't know how many people will be signing up. The cost to us (and thus to you) is significantly different if 1000 people sign up vs 5000 (or higher!) -- we're estimating (relatively high) on the initial fees in case only a few people sign up. If you were to sign up for a 2 year membership at the initial rate, and we can drop the end user cost by 5x within the first couple of months, you'd probably feel like you got ripped off.