A couple of my friends have won the first BBC Backstage competition with their web site mightyv.com (that’s a pun on “mighty tv” and “my tv”). It’s a great site and you should all take a look at it (assuming that the server can cope with the strain of all the publicity it’s currently getting).

Well done Leon and Leo. And it’s written in Perl too (or, as the Backstage announcement says, “PERL”).

Although I like it a lot, mightyv still doesn’t solve my biggest problem with watching TV currently. I have a number of programs that I watch regularly. Many of these programs are shown at various times during the week. Different seasons of the same series might be shown on different channels in the same week. Also it’s becoming common for an episode to be shown on something like E4 and then be repeated on Channel 4 the following week. All this means that it can be difficult to keep track of which episodes I need to be watching. Mightyv will show me that, for example, Lost is being shown four times over the next seven days, but it doesn’t know that I’ve already seen the Channel 4 episode as I watched it on E4 last week – so it still shows it to me.

What I want is a tv scheduling system that does two things. Firstly it needs to understand the concept of seasons and episodes so that it can tell me that the episode of Six Feet Under being shown this coming Sunday is season 5 episode 12. That would make it easier for me to know whether or not I need to watch it. Personally I find that it can sometimes be difficult working out what I’ve seen from the vague episode descriptions that you get from an EPG. I expect that the problem here is that the data that drive mightyv doesn’t contain that level of detail. Secondly, I’d like to be able to tell the system which episodes I’ve seen, so that it could give higher priority to the episodes that I haven’t already seen. It would be really good to get an email saying “that old episode of X-Files from season 5 that you never got round to seeing is on FX tonight at 22:00″.

Oh, and third (on my list of two!) it would be great to be able to search for programmes that aren’t in the current schedules. For example I’d like to see all of Dark Skies or American Gothic again at some point. But I can’t add them to my mightyv schedule until they are scheduled by one of the channels. Which means that I have to remember to search for them every week or so in case they’ve been added to the schedule whilst I wasn’t looking.

Or, alternatively, I could just go an look for them on BitTorrent.

Or, I could just turn of my television set and go and do something less boring instead…


  1. MythTV does its best to achieve this by keeping track of which shows it has recorded by looking at episode title and description provided from your tv schedule source. It works as well as the data is consistent, so it’s not perfect but will a little tweaking I avoid most dupes.

  2. We’d like to do so much more, but you are correct about where the problem is – the quality of data.In fact it’s so bad (especially for non-bbc) that we are actually generating the “Series” from the program title and which channel it’s on – which is far from ideal, but the best we can do.Our initial investigations seem to suggest that we could buy semi decent info – but that starts at 300 pounds a year per channel for the basic info! and I’m afraid we just don’t have that sort of cash!

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