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EyeTV and Roku (Redux)

Once upon a time, I ruminated about watching EyeTV recordings via my Roku. In the end, for a number of reasons, I rolled my own solution using AppleScript, my Turbo.264, and Apache. This solution works extremely well for my specific situation, but it only works for my situation and there is at least some interest in a more generic solution. With that in mind, I spent a little time this week reexamining the possibilities.

EyeTV is capable of serving both recordings and live TV in a format that the Roku can play, but there are a couple drawbacks. The biggest of these is quality. EyeTV records stuff in a format that is not Roku compatible, so the only way to get recordings to play on the Roku is by having EyeTV “prepare” them for iPhone access. The is a mechanism in EyeTV that does just what you expect. It allows you to watch your recordings on your iDevice. However, because iDevices have small screens, EyeTV encodes recordings for them with pretty low quality settings. When you try to play those recordings on a large screen, the result is less than great.

The other problem is specific to live TV. EyeTV has a mechanism that allows you to watch live TV on your iDevice as well. As you would probably assume, this mechanism suffers from the same quality issues that recordings do. In addition, for live TV viewing to work, EyeTV needs to be running on a pretty powerful machine.

Despite all that. I still wanted to at least see if it could be done.

It can.

I was able to put together a channel for my Roku that connects directly to EyeTV and allows me to watch my recordings, provided that EyeTV has prepared them for iPhone access. I can also use it to watch live TV although that experience is not very good because, in my case EyeTV is running on a Mac mini that’s starting to show its age.

For me, the home baked AppleScript/Turbo.264/Apache solution is superior. It doesn’t allow me to watch live TV, but that’s not really something I’m interested in. What it does allow me to do is watch my EyeTV recordings on the Roku encoded at much higher quality than the direct EyeTV route does.

This project has been mostly for amusement and will probably be filed under “because I can” and forgotten about. But if anyone else out there is  interested in playing with it, you should feel free to hit me up for the details.


10 Responses to “EyeTV and Roku (Redux)”

  1. VJscala32 says:


    Let me tell you this little channel or script you made for EyeTV is more awesome than you think!

    Guess what I use it for?????
    I connect a Video Camera into the Composite or S-Video input of the EyeTV or both at the same time to use it as a RealTime SECURITY camera on the ROKU!

    I can be in my room monitoring what is happening outside my kitchen window….I think it may be possible to even watch the camera on my Roku from another location…. Now imagine connecting a mutliple Security camera device that you already own that display 4 cameras or more on one monitor and has composite OUT….just connect that Composite OUT into the EyeTV input and stream that to the Roku…and you can monitor 4 Cameras or more at the same time!!! WooHoo!
    Thanks dude!

    P.S. Someone…maybe you…needs to create a Digital Signage Channel with Channels within that channel that lets users sign in and choose their own streaming Digital Signage content.

    also a Visualizer Channel with MilkDrop 2 visualizer like WinAMP
    and an IRC client! dont get me started! 🙂

  2. Love this solution. Use it all the time. One question: Any way to get captions to display, either via Roku interface or my TV’s caption function? EyeTV does capture that data when prepping content for iPhone…

  3. James says:

    Nowhere man, thank you for sharing this! We just cut the cord and are beginning to like our roku. Using an eye tv to record shows seems intriguing.
    If the quality was better, this seems like the perfect fix! Is there any hope for higher resolution in the future? Thanks!

  4. korzenik81 says:

    So since the recordings have to prepared for access (converted with EyeTV) you essentially turned your Roku into AppleTV? Am I right? When I export a recording from EyeTV to iTunes I can then watch them on my ATV2. IS there a way to watch EyeTV recordings without converting?

    • nowhereman says:

      No, I wouldn’t characterize it like that at all. Apple TV talks to iTunes. The Roku channel talks directly to EyeTV. In EyeTV terms, it’s preparing vs exporting. The Roku channel can also play live TV from EyeTV which I don’t think Apple TV can do.

      And to your real question, no. EyeTV recordings are stored as MPEG2, which is not a format Roku can play.

  5. Andrew Caldwell says:

    why, why, why, why does no one market a solution that’s actually designed to do this. SageTV kinda did, but now doesn’t support mac’s. If AppleTv or Roku or anything similar would attach well to an eyeTv setup I’d buy it in a heartbeat. They could even charge rather a lot, since it’d let me ditch my 70$ / month satelliteTv setup. It’s clearly technically possible with the HW available. It boggles the mind….

  6. Ben says:

    Well, once I enabled a show for iphone access, things seemed to work OK. The prepared show was good (any way to have eyetv automatically prepare recorded shows for iphone access, I didn’t see anything in the smart guide setup?), but quality of live tv is not watchable. Is there major resolution drop on live tv? I have a 2.8Ghz i7, is there any way to increase the quality of live tv – I suspect my system can do better than what I’m seeing.

    But the recorded, prepared show was pretty good (not as good as what I get with an HDMI cable directly to my tv, but good).

    Thank you again!

  7. Ben says:

    I am very excited about this channel, but I had some troubles gettings it to work.

    First, I have the firewall enabled on my mac. The Roku cannot find my eyetv when searching unless I disable the firewall. With the firewall enabled, when I enabled sharing in eyetv, a dialog asked me to allow incoming connections to eyetv, which I did. That should be enough,no?

    Second, I already export recordings from eyetv to itunes (using eyetv’s appletv export). But these recording are not appearing on the roku (probably since they are in the itunes library now). I have to specifically ‘enable for iphone access’ in order for the roku to play a show (actually, I am exporting right now, so I don’t know if it will work; I assume it will). I wonder if I will then have to export twice if I want to continue to be able to access the shows from itunes as well as from roku?

    And finally, THANK YOU (that’s not screaming, it is a big thank you). If there is any way I can help with this channel, I am happy to do so.