Schedules Direct Frequently Asked Questions
Are the download servers down? I get a host unreachable error.
This web server tests the download servers every 5 minutes. If you don't see a message on this page that says there are known issues there probably are not. You may be blocked on the data server though. For details see THIS thread in the forum.
In short, attempting to download data with an expired account more than 10 times in a two hour period will block you for 48 hours. A valid account hitting the server more than 200 times in a 2 hour period will block for 24 hours.
Note: a single download request in your application may generate 10 (or more) requests to our server. That said, 200 should be many downloads. Once you've confirmed the problem isn't downloading data, look for other possible problems.
How much information is generally available?
Schedules Direct offers two data sources; SD-DD provides XML and SD-JSON provides JSON.
SD-DD data typically has 12 to 13 days of data in the US. The JSON data has about 20, but the further out you go, the fuzzier it gets. The SD-JSON data supports countries outside of US/Canada/Mexico.
The XML data generally has episode descriptions, but doesn't have deep information about the actors.
Some applications have native support for the SD-JSON data. Those which do not, will have less information available. (Some programs may pre-process SD-JSON data to a XML format, but will loose information because not all JSON fields are in the XML layout.)
How do I use Schedules Direct with approved software package X?
We only approve an application to make sure it is non-commerical. We don't know how to configure most applications and are not in a position to do application support.
We recommend you follow whatever procedures your application has in place for support. If that doesn't work, you can try our Forums and another member may know the answer.
What do I do if my listings are incorrect?
Because we are now paying customers of DataDirect, we have account representatives that will deal with these issues. If your listings are incorrect, please let us know (lineup support) so that we can get them involved.
Why don't you use BitTorrent to distribute the listings data?
An analysis of the typical size of the data sent to members shows that BitTorrent or some other P2P mechanism would not be a good fit for distributing program listings. In the United States, there are thousands of lineups. Schedules Direct is not bandwidth limited, so P2P really doesn't make sense in this application.
Why didn't you just get guide data from Tivo / Replay / Gemstar?
We approached a number of the existing data providers when this project was initially started. For various reasons, none of them were able to do what was needed, either because they weren't interested, or were not contractually able to resell the data, or could only provide information such as the title and time, or did not cover all of the United States and Canada.
What about alternatives to licensing data?
Screen-scrape from TitanTV / Yahoo / Zap2It / TVGuide / TV Station website.
You're probably going to be violating the Terms of Service for the website that you're scraping. Additionally, what's easy for a single person to do quickly becomes noticed if 5000 others begin to scrape a web page every day. But, you're welcome to create a competing data source: The MythTV and XMLTV projects have both said that they would accept any program information provider as long as it was legal and wasn't violating terms of service.
In the USA, EIT data is supposed to contain at least 12 hours of accurate data for the digital stations. Only a few broadcasters provide anything more than that, and some broadcasters don't even provide the legally required EIT data.
Most of the scheduling information that's in VBI is encrypted and in order to decrypt it you would need to purchase a license from Gemstar.
You're a non-profit. Is any of this tax deductible?
Not as a charitable donation. We applied to the IRS for nonprofit status and after years of trying a lots of legal fees they turned us down. We're still registered as a non-profit in the State of WA of course.
It is also highly unlikely that the membership fees themselves (which are called "program fees" for tax purposes) would have been tax deductible anyway.
Do I need to upgrade my software to use Schedules Direct?
In short, yes. You can make a small change to the URL to allow fetching the raw data, but one key datafield has changed size and new processing is needed for repeat/new episode flags.
I was using multiple accounts with Zap2It Labs. What now?
Like Z2L, Schedules Direct supports 4 lineups per account. Some folks used multiple Z2L accounts with MythTV because they needed a single Z2L lineup to feed multiple MythTV video sources with different channel lists.
MythTV now support channel filtering on MythTV video sources so this is no longer needed. For more info, click here
What is a "geographic region"?
Generally you should only need to use your own postal/zip code to receive listings, but we do recognize that sometimes a channel which you receive over-the-air in an antenna setup is not listed under your postal code or your cable listings are more accurately reflected by another postal code in your cable provider's service area. We make some allowances for this in our fraud detection, but we would like you to inform us of any inaccuracies in the data and we do need you to update your account information when you move in a timely manner to avoid interruption of service.
Why don't you offer lifetime memberships?
We don't know what our long-term costs will be, so you would either overpay or others would eventually subsidze your membership. Neither is fair. Similar rules apply to multi-year subscriptions. If something unusual is going on (like a military deployment) we can work with you, but we don't consider once a year a significant burden.
How much does Schedules Direct cost?
A membership at Schedules Direct currently costs US$25 / year. You are also allowed a no-strings-attached 7 day free trial. If you sign up for a trial account, you are responsible for following the payment instructions on your "my account" page — we will never auto-bill you.
Why are you charging for something that you used to provide for free?
I think that you have us confused with the Zap2it Labs project, which used to offer a data service similar to the one available to Schedules Direct members. Tribune Media Services tried to keep Zap2it Labs running for free, but was eventually required to shut it because commercial entities were abusing the free service.
The only relationship Schedules Direct has to Zap2it Labs is that we license data from Tribune Media Services, which ran Zap2it Labs while it existed. We have to charge a membership fee because Tribune charges us a licensing fee and we do not have enough large donors to pay for it without financial help from our members, through their donations and membership fees.
Why are you using PayPal?
PayPal offers an API that our developers are familiar with, which was necessary because of the short time frame the Schedules Direct project was given to implement a solution. Schedules Direct will not store your credit card information - we don't even see it. You do not need a PayPal account to subscribe to the Schedules Direct service - PayPal will be performing Credit Card processing on our behalf.
We also offer Amazon Payments.
I can't/won't get a Paypal account. Can I send you a check?
Though we use Paypal to do our credit card processing, you do not need to have a Paypal account in order to sign up for Schedules Direct in most cases.
We also now offer Amazon Payments.
If you do not feel comfortable giving out any debit/credit card numbers to one of our payment processors, you might want to look into "one time use" numbers from your credit card company, or one of the variety of "gift card" options available through many local banks and retailers (basically, it looks/works like a credit card, but has a fixed balance and no personal information attached to it).
Why don't you just tell us how much profit you'll be making from our membership fees?
There will be no profit made from your membership fees. No one on the board of directors is paid for his work on the board. Currently, a few people are paid reasonable fees for their time keeping services running. All of us still have day jobs.