TiVo Enables Custom Video Podcast Feeds

Dave Zatz —  August 5, 2009 — 19 Comments

I know I’m not the only one who’s been holding out for this… Today, TiVo will enable us Series3/HD owners to specify custom video podcast RSS feeds which aren’t found in their (growing) directory of web video. This is a welcome improvement over the TiVo Desktop 2.6 transcoding kludge. Although, it won’t reach its full potential until we can add and manage feed subscriptions from within a tivo.com web console. H.264 RSS enclosures are supported, although TiVo hasn’t specified anything further in regards bitrate, resolution, etc. I was hoping to get an advance look last night, but the TiVo team was racing out of the office for the GDGT launch party. And who can blame them?

Update: The Custom RSS Feeds option has been pushed out, along with a ton of new-to-TiVo video podcasts to choose from within the web video library. Entering text via that TiVo remote while in the HME app is brutal. Perhaps it’s less painful watching me struggle, in lieu of trying it yourself, as I add TechVi to my queue in the YouTube clip embedded above.

Click to enlarge:

19 responses to TiVo Enables Custom Video Podcast Feeds

  1. It’s about time! ;-)

    Seriously, this is good to see.

  2. Wow. This is seriously cool. If I didn’t have a TiVo already, I’d be tempted to get one just for this.

  3. I have been using HME/VLC (http://tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showpost.php?p=6616197) for the past several months to get video podcast feeds. Before that I was using a combination of Miro (http://www.getmiro.com/) and StreamBaby (http://code.google.com/p/streambaby/) for the podcasts.

    The Miro/StreamBaby method allowed me to download and watch the downloaded podcast on my S3. The HME/VLC method allows me to stream RSS Feeds directly to my S3, much like this NEW feature.

  4. As per my comment in the TiVoCommunity forum, are these one-off’s or if you type it in it will download all future podcasts?

    Also, is there a website we can type them in. Lord knows I’m not going to type long URLs in with my peanut?

    Finally, how the heck do you know what the RSS feed is for any given podcast. I let iTunes manage all that.

    It would be much preferable if TiVo managed an RSS list like iTunes and let podcast owwners register their podcasts with TiVo. The consumer (you and I) would go to that page on TiVo’s site and search for the podcasts we want and then subscribe – just like we do on iTunes.

    When that happens, then I’ll be impressed and start to use it. Before that it seems nothing more than a kludge. I’m happy with iTunes, AppleTV and my iPhone – a much superior podcast viewing experience than TiVo.

    …Dale

  5. Dale, it’ll remember your feeds but I don’t think it’ll auto-download episodes. Not until it’s added to the directory, and this is probably a good way for TiVo to find the podcasts people want. iTunes is free and has millions and millions of users. TiVo has only 1.5 million subscribers, a portion of which are on the S3/HD platform and broadband connection – so I don’t think putting the responsibility on publishers will work out the way it has for Apple.

  6. ok, now I’m really confused. So this is a suggestion engine of some kind for TiVo users to suggest podcasts that will go into TiVo’s walled garden?

    If its just a one-off, who the hell is going to manually go in and manually download podcasts one at a time?

    I’m not opposed to consumers being able to ‘roll their own’ if they can roll their own subscriptions, but simply a way to allow manual downloads from time to time seems a bit ridiculous.

    In any event, the system should be open to publishers too so they can feed in their RSS feeds if they want. I suspect most video podcast producers would register their feeds with TiVo if given a chance.

    But this whole thing is sounding half-baked.

  7. Yes, you may be confused. Maybe we all are. And this is why TiVo should have hit my box with an update last night, so I could have shot a video.

    IF a video podcast you want to watch isn’t already syndicated via TiVo you can manually add the RSS feed. Once you enter it, it’s retained in your account for future access. I’ve made the assumption that feeds they don’t have will be evaluated for inclusion in their directory. Also, from other screengrabs we’ve seen it doesn’t look like their are Season Pass options, but you can initiate playback or download of episodes by visiting your saved link in the web video menu. We’ll know more as soon as it rolls.

  8. Looking at your picture again it does ask for peole to enter the URLs of the RSS’s to which they wish to ‘subscribe’. That sounds promising.

    I’m looking forward to your testing it. I wonder if it will be available in Canada. Even though I signed up for that fancy-new screen demo that you folks got to test out, they never pushed it to my TiVo.

  9. If I can subscribe, the first one I’ll subscribe to is Jim Cramer’s Mad Money. As you know I recently cancelled my cable subscription. There are only about 4 or 5 TV shows I miss and can’t get any other way. I just discovered yesterday that the entire Jim Cramer Mad Money show is on as a podcast. If I could get that on my TiVo that negates the entire need for CNBC as it was the only CNBC show I regularly watched.

  10. Cassidy Napoli August 5, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Dale, here is the url for the Mad Money podcast (I’m not sure if it’s a full episode feed or not).
    http://podcast.cnbc.com/mmpodcast/lightninground.xml
    You can shorten feeds to make typing them into the tivo easier, using any url shortener, for example using bit.ly on the above link gives:
    http://bit.ly/ciwVg

    Unfortunately, while you can see the episode information for the Mad Money feed, the TiVo doesn’t recognize the specific format that cnbc is encoding to, and won’t instantly playback or download the programs in the feed. So far, I’ve had success with:
    Revision3 content (Hak5, Tekzilla, etc.)
    TEDTalks

    Besides Mad Money, I’ve had failure with ZiffDavis content(CrankyGeeks and DL.tv)

    I’m sure there are a lot of other working feeds

    Dave, TiVo has published more info about the needed encoding parameters and feed formatting tips at:
    http://www.tivo.com/abouttivo/resourcecenter/developerpublisherdetails/index.html
    I haven’t gone over it closely yet, but I think there’s enough information for anyone with the interest to produce a working feed. I’m really hoping ZiffDavis(Dvorak) has interest in returning to the TiVo.

  11. Hi Dave, sorry you weren’t able to see this in action last night. But head to TiVo Central -> Video on Demand to try it out now.

    As you’ve seen, you can’t create a Season Pass for the custom RSS feeds, but it does remember your entries so it’s very easy to download the latest.

    And we are paying close attention to the custom RSS feeds that are entered and will be adding them to the list automatically.

    One other tidbit for the entering: We know this is a bit of a pain via the remote, but after you enter five characters, it will do automatically do a search to see if others have entered that same URL, and begin pre-populating.

  12. As far as I am concerned, this “custom RSS feature” is completely useless until TiVo adds the option to create a season pass to automatically download new “episodes.”

    Who wants to navigate to the screen and download (or stream) every new video manually? Very few people will use the feature if they have to do that.

    I want to “set it once and forget it.” I want every new “episode” downloaded to my DVR and organized into a folder with the name of the program, just as we get with television programs.

  13. I’ve updated the post with a video and an extra pic, taken from that video showing how/where these custom feeds are retained. The typing is brutal, but the feature is decent. I’d prefer it automatically download new episodes in my NPL, but I’m not as agitated as bkdtv – especially since it seems like TiVo is using these links to build out their library. But how will I know when my “custom” feed because a library item and will I be automatically migrated? Somehow, I doubt it…

    Cassidy, I think I emailed you at your old address… But, for all: Some of those URL shorteners expire links after a period of time.

  14. OH my Gosh that was painful to watch! P-A-I-N-F-U-L-L!!!

    Thanks again for taking one for the team.

    As I mentioned above, if I could set these up with Season’s passes I’d definately go through the pain for my video podcasts. But, I’ll never remember to dig down that deep into the interface to manually look for updates when iTunes/AppleTV just dish up all my latest podcasts effortlessly for me.

    But I appreciate TiVo heading in the right direction. I’ve wanted customized podcast choices for a long time, but never expected them to implement it this way.

    Cassidy, I don’t think that is the feed because the new feed is the ENTIRE show, not just the lightening round. I looked on the feed in iTunes to see if it revealed the URL in the More Info tab and couldn’t find it. You can get it from the iTunes store at this URL:

    http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?i=57910932&id=147247199

    If someone knows what the actual RSS feed URL is I’ll try it out on my TiVo, assuming this function is available in Canada.

    But, again, won’t use it regularly until I could set it up as a seasons pass – then I’d probably really enjoy it.

    …Dale

  15. This is a painful feature to use — no other way to say it. But, at least it will try to auto-populate the custom RSS feeds if it has been used before.

    I appreciated the expanded listings, but they have gotten a little large to navigate easily, even with a 8Mbps wired Ethernet connection.

    It is, however, incredibly picky about what it will accept. They say they want H.264 video. I have tried three different feeds that are in that format, but it says that no compatible video formats were found in that feed. It’s particularly frustrating after spending 2-5 minutes entering a URL that’s 300 characters long. They need to expand the formats permitted.

    I’m definitely in agreement that needs to be included on their MyTiVo webpage for entry of custom feeds. Doing it through the TiVo UI is painful and, at least for me, so far useless!

  16. Forgot to mention and forgot to try myself… those of you with iPhones and iTouches should hunt down the keyboard-ed DVR remote app on iTunes. (My app doesn’t run anymore, just hangs or crashes. Maybe you’ll have better luck.)

  17. Painful indeed! And of course, the two video streams I tried to use were both invalid. Still, a very cool feature, and I’ll look up that DVR Remote app!

  18. i was going to mention try using a url shortener. if some expire after a certain time, surely there is a url shortener site that doesnt expire after time. otherwise there should be a special tivo url shortening site. also, (from the bit.ly example above), does tivo recognize uppercase/lowercase in url’s? somehow i doubt it

  19. This shortener “Numerify” seems designed to make it easy to enter via Tivo remote: http://2580.tk/

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