Well, the September 1 shut down of Zap2it Labs is almost here, ending the availability of free guide data for users of MythTV, GB-PVR, and other software.
As posted previously, Schedules Direct is stepping in with a subscription service to fill the on Saturday, the 25th, Schedules Direct went ‘live’ with their data service. You can sign up now for their service. Pricing is $15 for 3 months of data. They expect to lower prices based on subscription levels once the initial period is up, so there is no ongoing subscription option yet. There is a list of Approved Applications that can use data from Schedules Direct. Schedules Direct is a non-profit group run by members of the Open Source community.
Also, on Friday, August 24th, a small update to MythTV, 0.20.2, was released. One of the changes in this update was the addition of native support for Schedules Direct as a data provider.
As a competitor to Schedules Direct, CTpvr, a commercial DVR software provider, is offering CT TV Listings. Introductory pricing is $3.50/month or $30 pre-paid for a year ($2.50/month). They currently have beta software available (up to beta version 6 right now) but it is only for Windows. So if you were running the Linux-based MythTV you’d need a Windows box to run their software, download the data, save it out as XML, then import it on Linux.
Frankly I think Schedules Direct is the more elegant solution, and they do plan to lower prices once they have a feel for subscribers. Remember, they have to license the data from Tribune Media Services, so they need to collect enough from subscribers to cover the licensing costs. The more subscribers, the less they need to change per-subscriber. And they have said that just how much the fees drop after the first three month period will depend on how many people subscribe during that time. CTpvr has the advantage of having a commercial product out on the market and they’re already licensing the data, so they don’t need to cover all of the costs just from this service.
I think there is a good chance that SD could end up in the same price ballpark once they get up and running and have enough subscribers, maybe even lower since they are non-profit.