For years now Zap2It has offered free TV listings for hobbyists to use. It is a common listing source for non-commercial DVR products like MythTV, GB-PVR, and others. Unfortunately, no good deed goes unpunished. The free listings have been repeatedly abused, with companies selling things like pre-built MythTV boxes that use them. This goes against the spirit, and the letter, of the subscription agreement. Zap2It.com is run by Tribune Media Services, the same company that supplies guide data to TiVo. The data is licensed, so the abuse of the free service competes with the commercial offerings. Companies that sell DVRs and other software are supposed to license the data, not use the free service.
Well, Zap2It has had enough, they’re shutting the service down as of September 1, 2007. Another example of a subset of users ruining a good thing for everyone. People who were legitimately using the free service are going to have to find a replacement. Looks like it is back to scraping websites and trying to compile useful listings. Good luck.
I have one thing to say: I told you so.
I’ve said repeatedly that the companies building MythTV appliances and such, which leeched off this free service, were going to kill it. That TMS wasn’t going to keep supplying these products for free, competing with their own commercial service and their licensee’s products. I do feel bad for the individuals who set up their own MythTV boxes, but this is just what I said would happen if companies tried to commercialize MythTV – and why it wasn’t a good idea. TANSTAAFL.
Here’s their statement:
For several years we have offered a free TV listings service to hobbyists for their own personal, noncommercial use. In October of 2004 we posted here an open letter saying the future of Zap2it Labs was at risk because of certain growing misuses of the Zap2it Labs data. Unfortunately this misuse has continued and grown. These misuses, combined with other business factors have led to the decision to discontinue Zap2it Labs effective September 1, 2007.
We thank those users who have honored the terms of the agreement, and we suggest you consider the many TV listings options offered by the commercial licensees of TMS TV listings data.
If you would like to discuss how to license TV listings for commercial use, please let us know by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) and include your company name, telephone number and the best time to reach you. We will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.
We anticipate this decision will generate discussion and invite you to respond via the Zap2it Labs forum. We will do our best to respond to relevant questions posted on this forum in a timely manner.