How are TV program listings compiled?
January 27, 2005 7:55 PM   Subscribe

TV program listings: how are they gathered, like in TV guide, or Yahoo TV, or TiVo? Is there one company who compiles the database (who?) and provides any taker with them for a fee, or is the data so ubiquitous that anyone can compile it now? If there is more than one source, is there any consensus on the better?
posted by kk to Grab Bag (6 answers total)
The largest supplier of TV program listings in the US is Tribune Media Services. It is my understanding that they have a number of smaller competitors, but they supply the listings for both of your examples, namely Yahoo! and TiVo.

The original contract between TiVo (formerly Teleworld) and Tribune Media Services, with confidention information elided, is available as a sample contract.
posted by RichardP at 8:24 PM on January 27, 2005

I called Time Warner Cable to ask who supplied their listings; they claimed they purchase them from TV Guide, which is strange, as Tribune lists Time Warner as a client.

Infomedia does Europe. (There's also Digiguide.)
posted by RJ Reynolds at 9:01 PM on January 27, 2005

If you're looking for TV listings, there is a project called XMLTV that provides the tv listings in XML format available at .
Programs like MythTV and Freevo use these listings. If you don't know, MythTV and Freevo are do-it-yourself linux PVRs.

If I remember correctly there was some to-do at some point about having to fill out a survey once every three months in exchange for usin the info, but I can't remember exactly what that deal was.
posted by stovenator at 9:05 PM on January 27, 2005

I was curious what the data source was for the listings produced by the XMLTV project mentioned by stovenator. Looking at the source, it appears the US data comes from the Zap2it Labs DataDirect service, operated by Tribune Media Services. That service appears to be free, providing you agree to complete a periodic web survey and limit yourself to non-commercial, personal use. Apparently there have been violations of that agreement.
posted by RichardP at 9:47 PM on January 27, 2005

Six years ago, when I worked at an independent tv station, it was my responsibility to fax our weekly listings three weeks out to about ten different sources. IIRC, they included TV Guide and Nielsen, but that was many brain cells and phone numbers ago.
posted by LeiaS at 3:36 AM on January 28, 2005

Dunno if this is relevant, but: Microsoft's Windows XP Media Center Edition, a Tivo-like PC-based PVR interface, derives its listing info from Zap2it. At this point, this info is offered for free...
posted by RockyChrysler at 2:22 PM on January 28, 2005

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