Holiday Surprise: PIP Beta

We hope you all are enjoying the holidays this week. It's been a crazy year, but one of the main things that's kept us excited is this community. You all have been enthusiastic, kind, and super helpful with each other.

We've been working on this for a very very long time and wanted to surprise you with it.

How did you do it?

PIP is very tricky. It requires the native video player, but, as has been discussed on many, many threads...we don't use the native player. Luckily we found a way to bridge our player and the native PIP player, thanks to the work we have been pursuing all year to modernize our playback engine.

This means that PIP now Just Works, without the need for transcoding, and without a DVR server requirement. When you want PIP, just select the button and you'll enter PIP. This works with everything: HDHomeRun video, TVE video, recordings, etc.


While PIP is working well, you might notice some things. We love to set expectations well so here's a couple things you might notice right now. These may get better or may stay the same. Like I said, we've been working on this for a really long time.

  • Be sure you're on iOS and tvOS 14.3
  • Swiping to exit the app on iOS does not auto PIP
  • You may notice some glitching coming back to full screen from PIP
  • On tvOS, if our PIP window is active while another video player is started, audio focus will remain in other player until it is stopped

What to look out for.

We did a lot of work on our video and audio core to make this happen. Because of this, you might see bugs or crashes during normal playback. Please report these to us by submitting diagnostics and emailing at [email protected].

PIP is supported with both the Default and Experimental Video Driver, but the latter may be more robust. If you notice problems with PIP, try switching the driver under Settings > Playback > Advanced > Video Driver.

Have Fun

Have fun with this! Please remember that it's not perfect, but it's real close. We know you all have wanted this for a longgggggggggg time and we hope what we've delivered suits you well.

Have a good rest of the year!


Awesome! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you guys! Hopefully you had some time to take a break and relax last week and this week!


In many iOS apps if you have video playing and hit the “home” button (which is actually a swipe on devices with no home button), the video automatically switches to a PIP window and you are taken to the Home Screen. He is saying Channels will not do that, you have to PIP manually.

Edit: Looks like PIP is available with the beta build dated today.

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Quickly tested it with 2-3 channels and it works wonderfully so far on my phone and Apple TV! It's amazing on tvOS because it more-or-less provides the "minimized-video-in-the-guide" view from cable boxes that many have been asking for.

It doesn't seem like it's possible to simultaneously play a stream in full screen while playing another stream PIP, at least in tvOS. Could this be possible in the future or is it unfeasible given tvOS constraints?


Does our DVR server need to be updated to the latest beta? Does this work on remote streams?

No, as mentioned above this has nothing to do with the DVR server. It's a beta of the player app on iOS and tvOS available via TestFlight.

Also answered above:

Do I need an invitation to join testflight? I may have part of it before but haven't been using the beta's lately. Thanks! Really grateful that you guys keep moving this software forward!

This is great, and thanks for the hard work. Can you tell us a bit more about how it’s working? Did the built in media player add Mpeg2 or are you doing a bit of conversion in the fly?
So far it’s working pretty well. For me there is a short hiccup right when launching a channel, but then runs smoothly.

Tested PIP on iOS/iPadOS works great so far. Tuning channel in PIP mode is very smooth from/to On Now, Guide, and Library. Also using “The Play To Your TV” as a remote works great in PIP mode.

Any chance that the background audio in locked screen coming to iOS/iPadOS and multi-view to tvOS that you’ve found away to bridge the custom and native player? I’m asking for my wife.

Thank you for delivering this feature! I’m looking forward to 2021!

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This seems to be the most popularly requested feature. Curious how do people use it. I mean I occasionally use ESPN's multi view to watch different sport channels. That is different in that it is multiple streams from within the same app.

My first use case for PiP would be to have a security camera in PiP whilst watching something else. As I understand Channels implementation which is based on iOS/tvOS feature is that it is a single stream from the Channels app which is sent to PiP when requested. Therefore if I was to use it in my example and the camera feed is coming from Channels via PiP then I need to source my main stream view from another app or vice versa ?

So previously when it was in beta I'd use it all the time. I like watching stuff at the same time I'm surfing the web, so I'll have it playing on my iPad in PiP while I reply to forum posts in the internet :stuck_out_tongue:

I'm loving it. Will there be a way in the future for auto PIP when you go to the guide instead of manual.

Thank you! Enjoying the new PIP feature! I noticed when watching a recorded show in PIP the small Rwd and Fwd buttons work as intended.

However if watching a Live program in PIP the small Rwd and Fwd buttons are grayed out/ non functional.

If you go back to full screen the Rwd and Fwd buttons work as intended but only in full screen for a Live program.

This would be very cool, even if only tied to the “guide” button specifically on more advanced remotes.

Also curious about this, if it’s not a secret. As @maddox mentioned we’ve had lots of debates over the years explaining why this is very challenging to do and now the Devs sprinkle some fairy dust or something and boom working like a charm. :rofl:

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We used fairy dust :wink:


Great job! I really can't wait to see this PIP feature on stable app version. :slight_smile:

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