JRiver Looks to Kickstart Copy-Protected CableCARD Recordings
We mentioned during Entertainment 2.0 episode 348 that JRiver Media Center developers were planning to start a Kickstarter campaign that we were extremely interested in. The campaign’s purpose is to fund the development of a new add-on for JRiver Media Center that would add advanced DVR capabilities to the HTPC software, including copy-protected CableCARD content support.
JRiver’s Kickstarter campaign launched last week, and they’re going to need plenty of help to get this funded. They are looking to raise $100,000. The campaign is specifically to launch an add-on to JRiver Media Center called TVPlus. MC currently has TV tuner support. It even works with CableCARd tuners. However, it doesn’t support copy-protected (also called “play once”) programs. That’s where TVPlus comes in. The new add-on will bring full support for copy-protected TV programs. That means you’ll be able to record HBO, and anything else your cable provider offers via CableCARD, right inside of JRiver Media Center.
The Kickstarter campaign is partially being used to fund the licensing fees for Microsoft’s PlayReady DRM. This is the same DRM scheme that is used by Windows Media Center to enable copy-protected recordings. The campaign only offers three reward levels. For a $20 pledge you’ll get the upgrade to TVPlus for free, but you’ll need to already own a copy of JRiver Media Center 21 to use it. For $60 you’ll get a copy of JRiver Media Center 21, plus TVPlus, for Windows. For $70 you’ll get the Master License of JRiver Media Center 21, which can be installed on Windows, OSX, and Linux, and the TVPlus add-on. Keep in mind that TVPlus will only work on Windows though.
If you’re feeling abandoned by Microsoft’s dismissal of Windows Media Center, then JRiver Media Center may fill the void left in your home theater PC. JRiver’s software even works on Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10. While JRiver Media Center has users all over the world, the TVPlus add-on will only be provided to US customers.
We’re really excited to see another well known HTPC software provider jump into the protected CableCARD space that has been left by Windows Media Center. We do have some concerns though. The first is JRiver’s target delivery date for the TVPlus add-on. They are hoping to make it available to customers in March of 2016. That is only four months away, and only about three months from the end of their Kickstarter campaign. Unless they’ve already done most of the work, which seems unlikely, that doesn’t give me them a lot of time to finish development.
Our biggest concern with JRiver’s Kickstarter campaign though is how it’s being run. They don’t seem to be promoting it much outside of their own forums, and it’s lead to fairly weak numbers. As of this writing they’ve only raised a little over $4,000 toward their $100,000 goal, and there are only 17 days remaining.
We really hope that JRiver meets their goal set forth in their TVPlus Kickstarter campaign. With Windows Media Center no longer seeming like a good option the community needs alternatives. SiliconDust is still working on their HDHomeRun DVR, and now JRiver could give them some competition from a company who already knows how to make full-featured home theater PC software. If you’re interested, don’t delay! Time is running out!