Testing during Free Trial- Cord Cutter

Hello all:
I have gotten as far as installing the DVR server on a PC and since I don't have a homerun box, I used the TVE beta to add Philo, (got errors trying xfinity and Hulu) I then struggled a bit to get the remote access working using port forwarding. Only struggled because of my setup, not Channels. Anyway I am happy to have gotten this far. My goal is to dump cable and still get all the channels I like. So my question is what streaming services can be added to the channel guide/ DVR? I have the following subscriptions that I will be keeping. Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. To replace my cable boxes I plan on using Firestick 4k, since reading here it is the only firestick that works well. I signed up for philo free trial so I could test channels dvr. Works well, but not sure If I will keep it.
So I am wondering how permium channels are handled, Let's use HBO as and example. I can get HBO plus on Amazon prime account. But can that be integrated into channels for recording using the DVR? There are a lot of rabbit holes to dive into here and I don't want to get lost in them so I made this post. I am very computer savvy but if there is a quick start guide that answers some or most of what I am asking about, I would be happy to look there, just point me in the right direction. I have searched, but not finding what I am looking for. Looking forward to learning more about this very cool Application.

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If the provider you are interested in has TVE then you should be able to use it with channels. For providers that don't support TVE you can still record and import your desired shows via playon if interested.

"## Premium Channels

Premium channels like HBO, Showtime, etc do not participate in the TV Everywhere system. We suggest logging in and using their apps instead."

Also with the issues you are running into.... I am not sure if the free trial lets you update to the Pre-Release of the DVR software. But you can hit the drop down where it says Check for Update, and install the latest Pre-Release. This has tons of fixes for TVE (AKA Philo) and others that have been implemented and are not in the official stable release. Almost all of us are running the Pre-Release due to the ever changing landscape of TVE.

Also with TVE providers. They all use the networks login page to access the channel. So if you have Philo and Fubo TV. And both offer Discovery channel. They both log into Discovery Website to start streaming the channel. So really the only difference in these providers is what channels they offer and if they have TVE access for that specific channel.

You can find the list of available channels here via their service.

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I also forgot to mention that for hulu. You must have hulu live. Think of it this way. If it isn't offering live tv it will not work for TVE. It if it like netflix where it is video on demand. Meaning I can start watching at anytime. It can't be added via TVE. Prime, Netflix, and HBO Max are all video on demand services.

PlayOn Cloud is one rabbit hole to explore if you want to download shows from on-demand services and watch them in Channels DVR. This requires paying a small amount of money to PlayOn for each recording, but I'm considering trying it out when something I want is released only on IMDb TV, so that I can use Channels DVR to skip the commercials. But others use it with ad-free HBO Max, Prime, Netflix, etc. too, so they can retain content offline.

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Wow, these responses are awesome. Your responses were very helpful. Thank You.
I am glad there is an active community for this product. You all saved me hours of searching. I have a much better understanding of the functionality now.
I did sign up to the play on cloud that was mentioned as a free trial, so I'm on the right track. I am still a bit confused on where to get the source data to create a stream link. I get the mechanics of what to do with the file, but where do I get the filename data from the different source providers. Maybe that's a separate subject, but on my list of things to test.

I started off as you did with the Firestick 4k. I returned it due to the way Amazon took away most of what makes Android TV a great platform. Instead I'm using Chromecast with Google TV and am super happy. A little nicer skin that standard Android TV yet all the features are available. Super HDR 4K Video and Sound.

You can use PlayOn Could as a source to import from cloud providers like Prime Video yet what you are doing in this case is paying to download into Channels DVR and being limited to 1080 when you could stream at 4k. PlayOn Cloud is real nice for streaming services that run commercials. There are some nice integrations for the following free streaming services that don't require PlayOn Cloud using Custom Channels. They Include: Samsung TV Plus, Plex Live TV, Pluto TV, STIRR
There is a huge amount of free content with them with some channel overlap. There are threads on the forum that explain how to set them up.

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Channels is not a turn key type of operation. There are numerous pieces that all have to fit together to get what you want. The confusing thing is that the pieces I use are for what I want, and for what you want, will likely be different pieces.

Doing all this under the time constraints of a free trial is nearly impossible. In my opinion, addressing one piece at a time is the most productive methodology. At some point, you have to make a leap of faith that an acceptable solution is obtainable, and you are just going to have to pay for a few things to prove it.

For me, I started out with a Windows computer, Channels, Comcast, Amazon Prime Video (free because I already had Amazon Prime), and 3 FireSticks. Then I swapped out Comcast for Fubo and Verizon Fios for Internet. Then I added an HD HomeRun with a good antenna.

Now I have added PlayOn, Netflix, and Pluto to the mix.

Because I happened to get Paramount+ and Hulu for nothing or practically nothing, I added them as well.

I'm only saving about $35 per month over sticking with Comcast, but I have a lot more content available in a way that is convenient to watch.

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I am still a bit confused on where to get the source data to create a stream link. I get the mechanics of what to do with the file, but where do I get the filename data from the different source providers.
You don't need to create a stream link for playon. If you add playon as a source then the show/move will automatically download a bit after it's finished downloading. not exactly sure how long that is, but you can force the sync also in the web ui.

If you are fully going cord-cutter, I think you should get rid of all paid subscriptions to cable-based content. I think the best (possibly only) option is to set up an HDHR with an antenna. And subscribe to nothing. This gives you all the broadcast networks in the highest quality. Primetime TV. NFL. Live events. Local news. Can add Pluto if you want more free channels. And the only sub you need to pay is for the DVR.

This is exactly what I do. It is a ton of free channels. I've literally got 800+ channels set up like this. But, TBH, the majority of what I watch comes from a few free broadcast networks from my HDHRs: ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, Fox, CW. This is really all you need. Accessible on all of your TVs in the house (or on your phone, or at a hotel). Forget about cable.


The stream link was a separate issue to play on cloud. I am trying to test as much of the channels server during the free trial and that is one aspect that is not clear on how to set it up. I see you create a file with the information about the stream and give it an extension of strmlnk or something, but what goes in the file? How is that data formated....etc Not finding info on how to do that.

The URL to the content. There are examples in the docs.

@pmaior Stop worrying about the free trial, Channels is only $8 a month. I started the same way and continued on the monthly plan for 2 months. When I got everything setup correctly, I switched to the annual plan.

Who said I'm worrying about the free trial? That's my goal, but not worried about the money. There are also more than channels involved here as far as the free trial. Also testing Play on cloud, which is done now, works fine, and Philo TV. Testing all simultaneously. If I can avoid spending money I don't need to spend, then I will do that. There is also the live testing of computer and network solutions. So yes I agree it's not critical that I get it all tested during the trial, If I find this is not the solution for me, why would I want all the services required for the testing? I am looking to cut monthly services as much as possible too. It would be more productive for you to answer the technical questions I pose and not comment on what I worry about or what my goals are. We all have different preferences and goals here.

So just the url that is in the url box when I am streaming the channel through whatever service that is compatible? I'll try that thanks.

Update. I dolwnloaded and installed the pre-release version as recommended. Thanks for the suggestion.
Then I tried to import Xfinity using the TVE section. I did not get the form missing error like I did previously but it still wasn't working. I noticed that my phone got a text at the same time. So when checking it was an xfinity 2 factor code. So I went online to Xfinity and disabled 2 factor authentication. Took a few minutes and a couple of more attempts for that to propagate, but then it started importing channels. Awesome. I'm going to check the status in a bit. Thanks for all the help guys.

Hey @djcastaldo , I actually have TV plus on my Samsung TV with an HD antenna and it works great, but that's just one TV. and they have a lot of channels and it's free, so I could cancel all Comcast TV tomorrow and just keep data and I would have everything I need on that TV, but I have two others to cover. But your point is well taken.