frequently asked questions


Questions? We all have questions? See below for some commonly asked ones that we have the answers for.

Q) What is XMLTV data?

A) XMLTV is the defacto standard for online provision of TV EPG (Electronic Program Guide) data for various PVR (Personal Video Recorder) Systems. If you want to learn more about the xmltv format and specification visit http://xmltv.org.

Q) Is freePG.tv really free?

A) Yes, right now (and the forseeable future) it's free - as in "we won't keep your subscription money free" 8). We have to pay for server costs though, so we might set up some sort of donation system at some point.

Q) I'm not Australian - do you have feeds for my country too?

A) No sorry, right at this point we only have Australian EPG data. We might add in some other countries one day (just not today) - so keep your eye on this site just in case.

Q) Where does the XMLTV EPG data provided on freepg.tv come from?

A) The xmltv data provided inside these feeds originates from the community sourced EPG at http://oztivo.net. On the oztivo site however, the data is provided as individual channel files per day (as it was originally designed for use with Tivo PVR systems) - so you normally need additional software/grabber tools to be run and quite a bit of region specific configuration in order to piece them together into something useable.

This is where freepg.tv comes in - we take out all the hard work for you. All you need to know is what region you want an EPG for and we'll give a ready to go compiled (and compressed) xmltv file - it's really that simple - no more complex grabbers, no more perl scripts, and no more messing about getting all the timezones correct!

Q) What channels are provided?

A) In most cases the freepg.tv feeds contain most of the important FTA (Free To Air) channels you'd want to watch and record from*.
There's a few ommisions though (depending on what region you are in) - currently known missing channels are 'Imparja' (broadcast in regional SA, NT, WA) - and some of the community/shopping channels we can't source data for (Aspire, iShopTV, 44 Adelaide, 31 Brisbane). Maybe someone will provide these for us one day, however right now you'll need to work out some other way to get those ones. Please view the regional listing page to see what channels are (and aren't) provided.

Q) My PVR/HTPC can already get a free EPG over the air (OTA)- why would I need freepg.tv instead?

A) While there's a free EPG broadcast along with your TV stations, it doesn't really work too well when you want to record stuff due to it's limited and inconsistently formatted metadata.  For this over the air (OTA) EPG (also referred to as 'Inband' data) - the specifications only allow for a basic Programme Title, a short description (which might include episode title - but not in a way where your PVR can make use of it) and a classification. This is particularly an issue if you want to do things like have your system automatically record a tv series you watch (without you having to find an airing and manually schedule it each week). Similarly, even just browsing the EPG can be a frustrating experience when you only have limited information on hand - for example your OTA EPG might tell you 'The Simpsons' is on but not what episode it is or provide any useful description of it (so you can determine if you've watched it before).

The EPG data (sourced from OzTivo) and provided from freepg.tv on the other hand provides a set of rich metadata for each tv show to help you get the most from your system (and simplify your watching + recording experience). For example, for most popular tv shows (and Movies) you'll get a rich set of information such as Episode Title, Detailed Description, Programme Genres, Classification, Series and Episode Number, List of Actors,  Production Date, Rating etc.  This will make a huge difference to the usability of your PVR/HTPC + will mean you've got the best chance of seeing/recording what you want due to the accuracy of titles/episode-titles (and being able to get detailed information about it once it's in your list of recorded shows). If offered by your system, you can also do things like search for shows by genre, year or by Actor - due to this information being available in your EPG.

Here's an example comparing a regular OTA EPG entry with the freepg.tv entry for the show 'Castle' (on Seven) - shown as xmltv for clarity:

On your OTA EPG (below) - there's a single entry for a double episode - this means your pvr won't know what episodes it is - and if you had a Series Recording set up, it probably won't automatically record the show either because the title 'Castle' won't match 'Castle - Double Episode'.

<programme start="20151115213000 +1100" stop="20151115233000 +1100" channel="1328">
<title>Castle - Double Episode</title>
<desc>
Detective Slaughterreturns to enlist Castles help in solving a high-stakes robbery case. But when a body is found linked to the crime, he becomes the number one suspect. M CC
</desc>
</programme>


On freepg.tv (below) - you can see the rich metadata you'll get for the same programme (broken up into 2 x distinct entries as there is two individual episodes - 'Cool Boys' and 'Demons') - it will show you the Episode Title, cast, genres, series/episode numbers and a whole lot more. Because the metadata is broken up into distinct xmltv compliant fields, you're PVR/HTPC will actually understand what this data is and act accordingly (ie. the classification 'M' is enclosed in the classification element rather than just buried in the description)  :

<programme start="20151115103000 +0000" stop="20151115113000 +0000" channel="Seven">
<title>Castle</title>
<sub-title>Cool Boys</sub-title>
<desc>
Detective Slaughter returns to enlist Castle's help in solving a high-stakes robbery case. But when a body is found linked to the crime, Slaughter becomes the number one suspect in the heist turned murder, while Castle has to determine whether he's guilty or help to prove he's innocent.
</desc>
<credits>
<actor>Nathan Fillion</actor>
<actor>Stana Katic</actor>
<actor>Molly C. Quinn</actor>
<actor>Susan Sullivan</actor>
<actor>Ruben Santiago-Hudson</actor>
<actor>Seamus Dever</actor>
<actor>Jon Huertas</actor>
<actor>Tamala Jones</actor>
</credits>
<date>2015</date>
<category>Crime Drama</category>
<category>Mystery and Suspense</category>
<category>Drama Group</category>
<category>Mystery and Thriller</category>
<episode-num system="xmltv_ns">7.5.</episode-num>
<rating>
<value>M</value>
</rating>
<star-rating>
<value>7/10</value>
</star-rating>
</programme>
<programme start="20151115113000 +0000" stop="20151115123000 +0000" channel="Seven">
<title>Castle</title>
<sub-title>Demons</sub-title>
<desc>
Castle and Beckett confront the possibility of paranormal foul play when a world-renowned ghost hunter is mysteriously murdered while investigating a haunting at a legendary New York mansion.
</desc>
<credits>
<actor>Nathan Fillion</actor>
<actor>Stana Katic</actor>
<actor>Molly C. Quinn</actor>
<actor>Susan Sullivan</actor>
<actor>Ruben Santiago-Hudson</actor>
<actor>Seamus Dever</actor>
<actor>Jon Huertas</actor>
<actor>Tamala Jones</actor>
</credits>
<date>2011</date>
<category>Crime Drama</category>
<category>Mystery and Suspense</category>
<category>Drama Group</category>
<category>Mystery and Thriller</category>
<episode-num system="xmltv_ns">3.5.</episode-num>
<rating>
<value>M</value>
</rating>
<star-rating>
<value>6/10</value>
</star-rating>
</programme>

Q) How do I use this data with Windows Media Center?

A) You'll need to use an Media Center xmltv importer for this to work (ie. a program which reads in the xmltv file we provide and import it into Media Center's custom EPG database). We recommend you try out mobileware's Big Screen EPG if you are stuck (as it will do this for you with lots of extra goodies to make your EPG rock!). There's also a tutorial on how to get yourself setup with this product - just follow this guide.

Q) How do I use this data with other types of HTPC/DVR Systems ?

A) We probably don't have the exact setup you do (or DVR kit) - so we can't provide specific advice (visit your manufacturer or vendors support forum or documentation for best results). 

In general - most systems required you to first aquire your xmltv data by running a downloader/scraper etc or downloading a ready to go xmltv EPG file from a server (freepg.tv offers the latter - no need to run anything). Then, you need to 'import' it into your PVR/HTPC system - which will take this xmltv data you've obtained and save it into the custom database system used/maintained by your hardware/software. Importing the data will either be handled by your PVR/HTPC software itself (in which case you'll just need to provide the location where your xmltv file is sitting in some sort of settings menu) - or you might need to run/install some sort of plugin or software to do this (ie. in case of Humax PVR's you might need to install something like CrossEPG or xmltvimporter).

If anyone wants to contribute some guides/tutorials on how it works with their choice of system we'd be delighted to publish it (and no doubt newbies trying to work out the same thing would appreciate it too). Contact us if you can help! 8)

Q) What if there are problems with the data?

A) Please appreciate we don't make the original xmltv data itself (we just compile it) - so you may want to visit http://oztivo.net and report an issue (or help correct it given it's made by the community) - assuming it's a channel sourced from there.

If you think there's some incorrect channels in the feed - or the programmes start times have been incorrectly timeshifted please let us know (as that's the bit we take care of). Similarly, any problems accessing the feeds on this site (like http/download issues) might be our fault too so please let us know what's up.

Please appreciate this is a completely free service, so no support is implied/guaranteed or offered - everything is 'as is' - so feel free to use it but understand it's all at your own risk.

Q) Is repeat information provided?

A) tl;dr - no the feeds don't (currently) contain the repeat flag (in xmltv speak that's the <previously-shown> element) - however in some cases series/episode details are provided so your PVR system might be able to figure it out.

A bit more detailed info - if you're using something like Big Screen EPG + Media Center, then unique series + episode numbers are generated for the programmes during the import (this works even better if the source feed has a series/season + episode numbers /or/ an episode title for that show). This means that over time Media Center will build up a history of already aired episodes (from the day you start using these feeds) - so will be able to determine (in some cases) what is a repeat screening. Similarly, if a show is repeated during that week (or simulcast on more than one channel) AND sufficient unique series/episode information is provided - then Media Center will understand it's the same episode and not record it twice.

We're not that familiar with other PVR systems - so you'll need to play around your choice of system and see how it works for you.

Q) Why are feeds provided as a .gz file?

A) In order to provided the best download experience all feeds are compressed with Gzip. This means less data for you to download + less bandwidth for us to serve up. For example instead of having to download 3mb of data for a feed - after compression this size is reduced to around 0.4mb (so a saving of ~85% in most cases).

Most PVR systems + modern browsers (should) be able to detect that the feed is compressed and automagically decompress it for you on the fly. If not, you might need to use something like 7Zip, WinRar or similar to decompress it for you prior to importing it on your pvr system.


Q) How often are the EPG feeds updated?

A) Feeds are updated twice per day - and this update occurs at around ~6am + 6pm (however this will move forward/backwards depending on what various daylight savings are in place). For your PVR/HTPC system to be happy you probably only need to do an update once a day (at wee hours of morning so it doesn't interup anything you are doing works best). 

If you're nominating some sort of time in your EPG (or Windows) scheduler - pick an weird time rather than doing it on the hour. (ie. don't set your download at 7:00am - do it at 7:13 or 7:47 etc). This way you'll run into less chance of hitting our server at the same time as everyone else - so your download will be quicker and our server will be happier (by being under less load and able to accomodate more of you at once).