Using RSS / MRSS Feeds and Playlists with Instant TV Channel


This Instant TV Channel Help article applies primarily to Developer SDK Roku channels. Currently only Vimeo playlists (albums) are supported in Direct Publisher Roku channels built using Instant TV Channel. Support for other playlists and MRSS types may be added if enough interest is shown.

Media RSS (MRSS) Feeds and Playlists can be used to insert multiple video or audio streams into a channel using a single URL. MRSS Feeds allow complex channels with large numbers of content items to be quickly built and maintained.

An MRSS Feed URL points to an XML file that contains information about one or more video or audio content items. At a minimum the information must include a URL pointing to a Roku-compatible stream formatted as ism, hls, mov, mp3, mp4, m4v, or wma. The Instant TV Channel software running in the Roku player decodes the XML file in order to play the streams pointed to by the URLs in the file. If there is any additional information in the XML file such as title, description, length, date, or poster URL, the Roku player will attempt to use it to build the List, Grid and Springboard (Detail) screens.

If you are programming your own MRSS XML generator, Instant TV Channel MRSS tags are available. The Instant TV Channel MRSS elements provide Roku-specific information to your Roku channel for a greater degree of control over the on-screen fields than is possible with common MRSS variants and extensions.

A Playlist URL provides information about a list of video or audio items at a specific content provider. The information that the URL points to needs to be decoded by the Roku player to determine the actual video or audio content URLs. Instant TV Channel currently supports Brightcove, Viddler and Vimeo Playlists. Other Playlists may also work with Instant TV Channel but are not officially supported.

An MRSS Feed or Playlist can be inserted into any of the following:

           A Horizontal List (including the top-level of a SceneGraph or Classic channel)

           A Vertical List (including the top-level of a Vertical channel)

           A Grid (including the top-level of a Grid channel)

           A Grid Row

If a Feed or Playlist does not contain URLs for content posters, the Content Editor provides backup poster URLs HDPosterUrl and SDPosterUrl that are used instead. If IgnoreMrssPosters is set to True, the backup poster URLs will be used regardless of whether the Feed or Playlist contains its own URLs for posters or not.

When selecting poster URLs, ensure that the posters are the correct size in order to achieve optimal channel performance and poster appearance. Please see this article about poster sizes and parameters including PosterStyle, ListStyle, DisplayMode, and ListDisplayMode.

For the following examples you should use a non-certified ("private") channel that you have already packaged and published. If you have not already packaged and published a non-certified channel, please complete this Walk-Through first.

Example 1 - Using an MRSS Feed or Playlist as a Horizontal List

  1. Enter the Instant TV Channel Content Editor by clicking on the Content link on the left side of the page.
  2. The upper left window displays the Contents Tree for the channel. To view the contents of any Grid or List you can expand it by clicking on the + symbol.

Typical Contents Tree
      

Same Contents Tree with Grid and Lists expanded
  1. Right click on any Horizontal List icon or Vertical List icon and select New MRSS or Playlist. If this is a SceneGraph, Classic or Vertical channel type, you can also right click and select New MRSS or Playlist from the top-level icon (labeled "MRSS Demo Channel" in the tree below).

Right clicking the Horizontal List
      

"New MRSS or Playlist" was selected
  1. Left click on the New MRSS or Playlist icon in the Contents Tree to select it. This will cause the lower window of the Content Editor to be updated with the parameters for the item selected in the Contents Tree. In this case the parameters in the lower window are for the New MRSS or Playlist item.
  2. One of the first parameters in the lower window is ListStyle. Changing the ListStyle parameter will affect how the MRSS Feed or Playlist is displayed by the player. Examples of setting ListStyle to the flat-category and arced-portrait options are shown below. The best ListStyle option to choose is one that most closely matches the dimensions of the posters or thumbnails included in the MRSS Feed or Playlist.

    ListStyle Options - Sizes shown are poster width x height in pixels
    ListStyle HD Size SD Size Description
    arced-16x9 385x218 285x145 Arced list of poster art displayed in 16x9 aspect ratio.
    arced-landscape 290x218 214x144 Arced list of poster art displayed in landscape (wide) style for 4:3 aspect ratio TV shows.
    arced-portrait 214x306 158x204 Arced list of poster art displayed in portrait (tall) style for DVDs or Movies.
    arced-square 300x300 223x200 Arced list of poster art displayed in a square frame style.
    flat-category 304x237 224x158 Flat (non-arced) list of categories. This ListStyle is often used for a channel's top level menu screen.
    flat-episodic 224x168 166x112 Flat (non-arced) list of episodes for series content such as a TV show.
    flat-episodic-16x9 250x141 185x94 Flat (non-arced) list of episodes displayed in 16x9 aspect ratio for series content such as a TV show.

  3. Scroll down to the Url parameter. If this channel has been upgraded from Free to Unlimited or Commercial, you will be able to enter your own MRSS Feed or Playlist URL into the Url parameter box. If this is a Free channel the Url parameter box will not be editable, however there is a working demonstration MRSS Feed URL already in the box.
  4. Scroll down to the StreamFormat parameter and verify that it is the correct type for your MRSS Feed or Playlist, typically mp4.
  5. Scroll down to the ShortDescriptionLine1 parameter. The parameter box initially contains "New MRSS or Playlist". Change this to the name to be displayed for your Feed or Playlist, for example "Daily News" or "Music Videos".
  6. Scroll down to the ShortDescriptionLine2 parameter. Enter a brief description of the MRSS Feed or Playlist into the parameter box.
  7. Scroll down to the SDListPosterUrl and SDListPosterUrl parameters. Enter the following poster URLs into both parameter boxes, or use your own poster URLs:

        For SDListPosterURL enter http://ex.irchan.com/samples/test_224x158.png

        For HDListPosterURL enter http://ex.irchan.com/samples/test_304x237.png

    Ideally, you should use URLs for posters with dimensions that match the recommended sizes shown in the descriptions to the right of the parameter boxes. See this article for more information.
  8. Your new MRSS Feed or Playlist is ready to test. Go to your Roku player and exit your channel if it is already running. Restart your Roku channel, and select the poster for the new MRSS Feed or Playlist. If you provided a correctly formatted valid URL, a Horizontal List containing the items in the Feed or Playlist will be displayed for you to select from.

MRSS Feed with ListStyle set to flat-category
    

MRSS Feed with ListStyle set to arced-portrait

Example 2 - Using an MRSS Feed or Playlist as a Series Content Item

  1. Follow Example 1 above.
  2. In addition to inserting the New MRSS or Playlist into a Horizontal List or Vertical List , you may also insert the MRSS Feed or Playlist into a Grid Row .
  3. Using the Content Editor, left-click to select the New MRSS or Playlist icon in the Contents Tree.
  4. If you inserted the New MRSS or Playlist into a Horizontal or Vertical list, or into the top-level of a SceneGraph Channel, Classic Channel or Vertical Channel, locate the DisplayAsSeries parameter and set it to True.

    If you inserted the New MRSS or Playlist into a Grid Row there is no DisplayAsSeries parameter because Feeds and Playlists in Grid Rows can only be displayed as Series content items.

  5. Your new MRSS Feed or Playlist is ready to test. Go to your Roku player and exit your channel if it is already running. Restart your channel, and select the poster for the new MRSS Feed or Playlist. If you provided a correctly formatted valid URL, the Springboard screen for the first item in the Feed or Playlist will be displayed. Additional items in the Feed or Playlist will be shown if you use the remote control to click the on-screen "choose a different episode" button.

Series MRSS List's poster (HDPosterURL) in a Horizontal List
    

Series MRSS List's poster (HDPosterURL) in a Grid
 

Series MRSS Springboard (Detail) screen for Lists and Grids
    

Episode List (when "choose a different episode" is clicked)

Example 3 - Using an MRSS Feed or Playlist as a Grid Row

  1. Follow Example 1 above, except insert the New MRSS or Feed into a Grid by right-clicking on a Grid icon and selecting New MRSS or Playlist.

    The New MRSS or Playlist icon should appear inside the Grid at the same level as any existing Grid Rows, but should not be nested inside a Grid Row.


"New MRSS or Playlist" inserted as a Grid Row
  1. Left click on the New MRSS or Playlist icon in the Contents Tree to select it.
  2. In the lower window of the Content Editor, scroll down to the ShortDescriptionLine1 parameter. The parameter box initially contains "New MRSS or Playlist". Change this to the name to be displayed over the Grid Row containing the Feed or Playlist, for example "Daily News" or "Music Videos".
  3. Your new MRSS Feed or Playlist is ready to test. Go to your Roku player and exit your channel if it is already running, then restart it.
  4. If your Roku channel is a Grid channel, the Grid is immediately displayed. If you provided a correctly formatted valid URL, one of the Grid Rows will contain items from the newly-added Feed or Playlist.

    If your Roku channel is a SceneGraph, Classic or Vertical channel, select the Grid that you added the new MRSS Feed or Playlist to. If you provided a correctly formatted valid URL, one of the Grid Rows will display the items from the newly-added Feed or Playlist.


Series MRSS List as a Grid Row

Please see this step-by-step guide for information on how to make a Roku channel using Instant TV Channel.

Questions and comments about this Roku developer guide can be emailed to .

Instant TV Channel is a cloud-based tool for Roku developers and content providers that shortens development time and eases maintenance after deployment.



Private Channel Code: ITVC
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