Feature request - Secondary instance of channels for true PIP on Apple TV

I’ve been playing around with PIP, and as I understand it it’s is not perfect yet and still has a few kinks to work out as I have observed some times . I can induce a “tuner not available message” , or a mode where I can’t get back to full screen video using PIP toggle , but still have audio from the source. Closing the app via the app switcher clears this up.

Despite these glitches it is an awesome feature. This morning I was able to go into PIP on the Apple TV and then run the HDHOMERUN app and watch two video sources simultaneously. But there is one limitation - no ability that I can see, to view two TVE streams at once on Apple TV.

Feature request:

Could it be possible to have a second instance of channels running on the same Apple TV, so that one could get two TVE sources working in PIP.

One idea, and I don’t know if it is possible, would be to create a secondary channels app that still uses the same media server but is running in parallel with the main channels app. The secondary app could be used to select another TVE or even an antenna channel as well (although you can already do this with the HDHOMERUN app)

I’m thinking SPORTS. It be nice to be able to have the NFL channel running and maybe another TVE sports channel running in PIP. Playoff season is coming and we are not to far from NFL season.



This feature is the one that I've wanted forever. Having the ability to view 2,3,4 TV Everywhere streams along with HDHR streams would be ideal for watching sports. Fubo TV has something like this that's only available for Apple TV. I use Nvidia Shields to stream, so I can't take advantage of that feature, but if I could I'd jump ship.

Please please please implement a split screen viewing experience! That feature alone would keep me hooked to Channels DVR.

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Split screen would be great, or even PIP with one stream the main focus and the ability to toggle between the active screen.

If it was easier to implement this as a separate app on the Apple TV, so it could hook into the existing server infrastructure, I could live with one active TVE full screen, with a secondary small TVE PIP screen the way the Apple TV already works.

The challenge might be figuring out how to toggle between the active audio and video stream (the one that has the focus)

I’m not sure Apple has put baked hooks into iPADOS so that developers can play around with this. hopefully one of the channels developers will read this and already knows the answer.

But even if it was a “static” PIP with two TVE streams going at once that would be an awesome feature.

You could download and install the beta app from TestFlight.

Out of curiosity, is something like this possible for Channels DVR to implement? Is it on the list of features down the road?

There is not enough CPU headroom for multiple custom playback engines. That may change with newer hardware.

So the beta app could run in parallel with the TvOS App store release on Apple TV? I’m relatively new user only a few months, so excuse my ignorance.

If so I will try this and see if I can get two TVE streams playing at once. This would be really slick. Thanks

I was able to do this with both versions of the Channels app, regular and beta. The problem is audio focus -- as you'll hear the sound playing from both. There doesn't appear to be a way to change audio back and forth between "main window" and "PIP." There doesn't appear to be a way to mute one and not the other, or to swap the windows themselves between main and PIP. It feels like a hack and doesn't make for a good user experience.

In the meantime there are other 3rd party apps that can take Channels' .m3u8 streams and present you with a multi-view grid. A few have been discussed here. The three I have played around with, having varying levels of success, are: CCTV Viewer,QuadStream, and Surveil Stream. They each take a bit of manual setup but once your favorite channels are configured, they work pretty well. I like CCTV Viewer the best right now because you can create tabs with different channel collections, with customizable grids, all the way up to 4x4 for 16 channels streaming concurrently. Audio focus changes with a swipe on the touchpad. Click to go full-screen with one channel, and then menu button to go back to the grid. It's pretty great.

As far as multi-view and multicast goes, I'd consider the gold standard in interface to be the way ESPN's and Fubo's apps handle it. Truly elegant and beautiful. I would love to see Channels be able to integrate something like this one day. The plethora of possible streams available, TVE and otherwise, make it really attractive and quite practical. Especially for breaking news and live sports.

Wow thanks for the heads up!

Well I played around with CCTV Viewer. Nice! A little clunky interface, but once you figure out and use the built in web interface that speeds up setting up different groups.

I’ve got a 3x3 sports channel matrix, and a CBS/FOX matrix for Sunday games. Still experimenting.

One thing I noticed is that the local antenna HDHomeRun channels using the channels dvr urls were really clunky, and took a long time to load and sometimes wouldn’t even load. I think it is because these are not compressed and CCTV viewer can’t keep up.

I’ve got an HDHOMERUN extend. I changed the local tv station urls to point directly to the HDHomeRun instead of the channels server, and now those antenna stations are very snappy in CCTV Viewer.

Thanks for the heads up on this! I think it’s definitely a cleaner interface than using the channels PIP.

Perhaps someday they could bake something into channels, but for now switching between fox and cbs to get the local NFL antenna games side by side is definitely worth the $2.99 investment for the CCTV APP...

And of course the other unlimited matrix sizes and combinations are fantastically flexible


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I'm wondering how other software is able to implement multiple streams and Channels DVR cannot due to hardware limitations. For example, I downloaded TiviMate last night, outputted the m3u file out of Channels DVR and was able to load up a ton of feeds on my TV without a hiccup. Moving forward if I want a multi screen viewing experience I'll be using TiviMate along with Channels DVR for this.

I looked up TiviMate on google play. They don’t have an Apple TVOS version or I’d play around with it. My original post was geared towards Apple TV feature requests, but as you just pointed out this feature would be popular for everyone on all the platforms. Thanks for pointing out the app. It looks very interesting..

Sorry about that. Forgot this was in the Apple TV discussion. This is what I hope Channels DVR can do one day. It's super fluid and works really well. I definitely prefer the overall Channels DVR experience, but I'll be using TiviMate in the fall for the CBS and Fox football games along with Redzone.

Other software does not use their own custom player, because they don’t handle MPEG-2 streams. Not sure if it was this thread or a different one, but loading 2 instances of the player into memory is a challenge. Other software is simply using the system player, so they don’t have to worry about this shortcoming.

Got it. For now I'll look elsewhere for the multiple steams, but I'm hoping somehow you guys can figure out a way to get this implemented. It seems to be a frequently requested feature that I think would really make Channels DVR standout. Thank you as always!

That looks cool. What platform are you running this on?

This is running on Android TV (Nvidia Shield). I still use Channels DVR as the server for the feeds, but TiviMate is able to display up to 9 feeds at one time. Its sweet for my 120" projector.

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For split screen, would it maybe be possible to use the performance of a NAS to deal with the several channels / streams coming in, and then send a single stream to the Channels app?

Yes, it is essentially how it would have to happen. However, such a method essentially requires that the live/client buffers are handled on the server, not the clients themselves. Such an architecture would also allow for many of the other requested features—adding buffer to new recordings, shared live buffer across clients, etc.—to be implemented, too.

However, such a change is huge, and not something that will easily be implemented. It would require reworking how Channels works, and is not something that the developers have expressed interest in addressing any time soon (as I've gathered from comments over the past year or so).

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Tivimate looks pretty good, I'm playing around with it now on my Chromecast w/Google TV.

Back to AppleTV though, I actually switched from YouTube TV over to FuboTV as my TVE and live TV provider, specifically for Fubo's multiview interface. It's excellent.