Channels DVR Just Won the Content Aggregation War

Discussion in 'TiVo Stream 4K' started by babsonnexus, Feb 4, 2021.

  1. Feb 4, 2021 #1 of 12
    babsonnexus

    babsonnexus Active Member

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    I didn't think they would do it based upon past response, but Channels DVR has officially added a method to get streaming deep linking into the Channels DVR interface, so there would be one interface for all aggregated content:

    Stream Links

    They also are now integrated with PlayOn which records content from streaming services like Netflix/Hulu/Etc... and allows you to either store it in the cloud or locally. Channels will auto-download what you record from PlayOn, so you can store everything locally if that is your thing:

    PlayOn Cloud

    So basically, for almost any streaming service you can now either have streaming links or download and store them locally, depending upon your preference and network bandwidth.

    I have not tested any of this myself yet, but will be doing so in the near future. Neither solution--nor other features like integrating Pluto and other m3u sources--sound non-techie friendly, but it would be fine for those inclined (like me!) who don't mind managing for the entire family. And given these are the first pass, with time they should actually get more user friendly!

    Just note that right now they are claiming they have no intention of adding the discover/search/add features into the Channels DVR UI (or do anything like Realgood/Justwatch does of keeping track of services as programs move or get added elsewhere), so you will have to do everything manually right now. However, they claimed just a year ago they would never do content aggregation, so I believe they'll see the value and do this, just not immediately.
     
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  2. Feb 4, 2021 #2 of 12
    ke3ju

    ke3ju Ed Ludwig

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    I've only been using Channels for about a month, but so far I like it. I hate the Client interface, so I wrote scripts to automatically move everything recorded to Plex with the commercials cut out and all the errors remuxed out.

    I'll check this stuff out. Thanks for posting!!!
     
  3. Feb 4, 2021 #3 of 12
    jwort93

    jwort93 Member

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    Is PlayOn still limited to 720p video and stereo audio? If so, it’s pretty much worthless, at least for me IMO.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  4. Feb 4, 2021 #4 of 12
    babsonnexus

    babsonnexus Active Member

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    I've never used it myself, but what from what I was reading on the Channels DVR board, the answer seems to be yes and everyone has the same feeling you do about that.

    The Channels DVR Developers made it VERY clear they do not want to create this functionality themselves to get top quality. Again, though, given time they may change their minds!
     
  5. Feb 4, 2021 #5 of 12
    mike3y

    mike3y Member

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    The big take away will be somebody or groups of people hosting stream links for us to use.
     
  6. Feb 4, 2021 #6 of 12
    babsonnexus

    babsonnexus Active Member

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    Here you go: maddox/channels-strmlnks

    To be clear, these are links to individual movies and episodes on various services which you can get yourself. The owner of the repository just did a scrape of what was in Reelgood (which is about 85% accurate overall, but higher on the big services). In order to access them, you have to have a subscription to the service, so nothing untoward about them!

    Now, I think you might be talking about streaming channels, which is a totally different thing. But, of course, Channels DVR will allow you to add any custom stream m3u channel you like and record off of it if you have the metadata:

    Add Custom Channels with M3U Playlists

    If someone happens to be hosting an m3u stream that is of... questionable legality... you could theoretically add it to Channels DVR as a live channel that you could record off of. Or maybe you just want to make one of a live stream from giraffe enclosure! All those options are available for you.
     
  7. Feb 5, 2021 #7 of 12
    mike3y

    mike3y Member

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    Correct. I’m speaking about Channels DVR which I have been using for years.

    this is great their coming up with awesome ideas. However, you still need somebody to maintain a repository of stream links. I think it’s way to much manual work for one person to do it and manage it. I see people getting tired of management real fast.

    As for m3u’s, in terms of what source you’re using. Tivimate does a match better job in terms of live viewing. As for recording channels dvr wins but since most of these m3u’s are not flagged with TV or movie they all get dumped into the tv section and there’s no ability to do series recording.
     
  8. Feb 5, 2021 #8 of 12
    scottchez

    scottchez Active Member

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    I just compared Channels to YouTube TV.

    Really missed the Picture in Picture that YouTube TV has, also the picture quality was worse on Channels, I think as it decode or down resez on the local recording where Youtube TV has the full picture both live and recorded.
    Also channel channels was slow.
    It did have both east and west cost feeds so that was a plus for most channels.

    Any way to get PiP on a TIVO
    What if I want to watch the Real Youtube tV recording?
     
  9. Feb 5, 2021 #9 of 12
    Pokemon_Dad

    Pokemon_Dad Ruler of Unown UI

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    As far as I know Channels DVR doesn't downrez the stream unless you set your local client to do that. Not sure what's happening there, but if you didn't do that then the cause may be the source. As for PIP, Channels DVR recently got that feature for some clients but the implementation is a bit of a kludge because of all the extremely simple remotes out there. Which client platform are you using?
     
  10. babsonnexus

    babsonnexus Active Member

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    OK, I've been testing/setting things up for over a week, and I have some general notes:

    1. This is not for the non-technical type.
    2. You will have to do a lot of manual work to set it up, including getting links down to individual episodes and setting up files for each in a specific file directory format.
    3. Not everything works with deep linking. Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ have been fine in my testing, and others have said that HBO Max, Prime, and CBS AA/Paramount+ are working, too. But others like Peacock have not worked on Android TV (but apparently do work on the web and Apple TV). Yet more like Hoopla open the phone app instead of the TV app and Kanopy does not work at all. This is actually a fault of the app developers and not Channels, but it is a limitation to consider.
    4. If you screw up setting up a file or need to replace a link, you need to delete the file, run a purge, and then add it again. It does not do replacements or rechecks (yet). EDIT: You can actually use a "Refresh Metadata" option in the Web UI to fix a link, so long as you are not moving the file itself (see below). However, this is per movie/episode, so if you screw up a bunch at once, I think the purge method would actually be faster.
    5. "Deleting" within Channels removes a program from view, but does not remove the linking file. If your recycle bin gets cleared out (which it will do automatically after X amount of days), the program will return. You have to go in and manually delete the file. And again, doing this will require running a purge afterwards to make sure it does not come back.
    6. Metadata is not perfect. It is dependent upon Gracenotes and it will about 10% of the time either not recognize the media by name, pick the wrong thing for something with a similar name, or not be available at all. It is pretty easy to change the metadata (if a match is available, no personal metadata yet), but you have to watch out. The Devs say they are looking into adding additional metadata to fix gaps in Gracenotes (I think we are talking about Guidebox, which is owned by Reelgood. Another option would be JustWatch's data, which I would prefer because it is much more accurate), as well as allowing personal metadata.
    7. Maintenance is everything because nothing is automatic (except scanning of new files). Have a show that is episodic weekly? Then you are adding the file when a new episode premiers. Movie goes from being on Netflix to being on Prime? You have to delete it, purge, and create a new link. Disney+ drops five seasons of a show on its service? Enjoy getting links for all 126 episodes that you can only get by literally launching each episode.
    8. This function is really in Alpha development and we are definitely paying for the pleasure of being testers. Good news is the Devs are very responsive to issues and have made some small fixes already. For instance, there was a server hangup when adding large amounts of Stream Links at once. They fixed it a few hours after someone noted the issue in an early release version of the server software.
    9. However, the Devs are not seeing the big picture of Channels being the single aggregated source for all content and thought this was just "to add a few programs". It has become abundantly clear that most people doing this are more like me and want to get EVERYTHING under one roof, even if that means the entire catalogue of Netflix. The Devs are hesitant to come around to this line of thinking, so judging by past experience it will be at least a year until they start to make this more user friendly, automatic, and less resource intensive.
    That all said, I'd rather do this than manage in Realgood/Justwatch/Google/Stream App, something else for recording, and Plex for personal files. Oh, did I mention that personal media files can also be added? This function is also in Alpha and works well in some areas and doesn't work at all in others, but still a step up. I'd rather use Plex on an exception basis instead of a normal basis. So now I've got streaming, TV recordings, and personal media all in one place in a fairly easy to navigate menu. I've also set up my Plex server to see the Channels directory, so if anything I record I'd rather view or need to see in there instead, it is not an issue.

    Further, my TV consists of my OTA (HDHomeRun), a TVE through a family member, and Pluto all in one guide, all with only the channels I want to see, all with automatically updating guide data, and all that can record with automatic commercial skip. You can set up a lot more sources than that, but that's enough for me.

    Interestingly enough, if you want to do this setup, I'd recommend using a de-TiVO'd Stream 4K+ for the front end interface. Chromecast with Google TV has disabled the ability to do Picture-in-Picture, so even though it is better hardware and has better software upkeep, the TS4k+ is actually superior for functionality. Beyond that, Channels can automatically integrate into the TS4K+ remote and take over its functions; and the TS4K+ remote is already better in all respects than the one from CCWGTV (I'm using a Sofabaton with that).

    In case you are wondering, I'm using a very old, underpowered Windows laptop for my Channels server. You don't need much, which is why you could actually install the server on TS4K+ or CCWGTC and attach an external HD. You could also go low-end with a Raspberry Pi or high end with an NVidia Shield (the latter directly connected to a TV would probably create the best experience).
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021
  11. Pokemon_Dad

    Pokemon_Dad Ruler of Unown UI

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    Last week one of the Channels devs was interviewed on the Average Guy Network podcast (available in audio or video), and briefly discussed their thinking on this topic: Jon Maddox from Channels – HGG480 Jump to 6:30 minutes to avoid discussion of the recent crazy weather, lol.
     
  12. SleepyD

    SleepyD New Member

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    The Channels DVR is amazing. It is what got me to kick TiVo to the curb. We had been antenna TiVo users since 2011. We switched this past December. I bought a TiVo Bolt three years ago because I was supposed to be able to watch recorded shows in another room with a FireTV stick. They killed that app right before I bought it. I didn't know that. What made me want leave TiVo was when they announced apps for media streamers to watch recorded shows from another room and then never put them out.
     
    Pokemon_Dad likes this.

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