Get TV listings for MythTV using Zap2It

TV listings are a schedule of which shows are on which channel at what time.

Much of the (TV related) value of a MythTV system is directly tied to it having information about what's on TV. Without TV listings, a MythTV system wouldn't be much more than a clunky digital VCR.

Entering TV listing information by hand would be an impractiable requirement taking up hours (or days or weeks!) of time. The next best, and only real option is to download the listings somehow from somewhere.

Zap2It, a commercial provider of North American TV listings, is gracious enough to provide free high quality TV listing feed to users of MythTV and other similar non-commercial projects.

Zap2It is generally considered the best way to get listings of your local TV listings into MythTV if you are located in North America.

In return for free listings, Zap2It requires you to fill out an online survey about your viewing habits every few months to keep your subscription active. I think that's really a pretty fair deal seeing how these are commercial quality listings that other companies pay Zap2It to use in their products.

It's very simple to sign up for and integrate Zap2It TV listings into your MythTV system. I suggest you sign-up for Zap2It's service prior to setting up MythTV for the first time.

When setup, once a day MythTV will generally download and update the schedule for the next 13 days.

Go to http://labs.zap2it.com and click on "New User? Sign Up". You will be presented with the license terms to agree to.

Next I'll step you through the sign-up process.

It asks for the basic information needed to create an account.

For MythTV, the "Certificate Code" is ZIYN-DQZO-SBUT. That's how they know you are a MythTV user.

As mentioned above, here is the first basic survey about your TV viewing habits you are asked to fill out. You will need to fill out a similar survey every three months to keep your account active.

You now have an account. That was easy, huh? Now you need to tell it which TV listing you need. Click the "Add lineup" button.

Enter your Zip or Postal Code...did I really need to tell you that?

Select the general type of system you get your TV through for MythTV.

Now select the specific system, company, and/or network that delivers your TV.

You now get to choose which channels you would like included in your listing.

Personally, I took out some of the channels I know I will never watch. For example, "2 - ONCABLE" is the scrolling TV listing channel. I am confident I have no need to ever record anything from that, so I de-selected it.

Well, that's it from the Zap2It side. It's now time to setup MythTV to use the listings from the account you just created.

Run "mythtv-setup" to get into the configuration utility for the MythTV backend.

Select "Video Sources" then "(New video source)".

The "Video Source Name" can be anything you choose.

This is the name you will need to select later when telling mythtv-setup what "Video Source" to associate with your TV Tuner card.

Why do you need to give it a name? Well, in theory, you could have more than one TV tuner card attached to sources containing different lineups...analog cable and digital cable for example.

Moving right along, select "North America (DataDirect)" for "XMLTV listings grabber".

Enter the Zap2It username and password you just created, then click "Retrieve Lineups".

mythtv-setup will contact zap2it and download the listing you just setup. Select your listing from the "Data Direct Lineup" drop down.

That's it for the configuration. In most cases, you can leave all the other setting at their defaults.

Click "Finish" and you should be dropped back at a screen similar to the following, with your new listing name in the list.

There's one more thing to do. Now that you have configured your new listing source, you need to download the data and populate the database.

Run "mythfilldatabase" to update your MythTV backend with your schedule information. It'll take a few minutes to run. When it's done, MythTV will have your TV listing available for use.

You can run "mythfilldatabase" at any time in the future to bring your TV schedule up to date. Just remember, this is a service Zap2It essentially donates to the MythTV community, so please don't abuse the service.