How to Configure Automated Playout Scheduling for Linear Streams

Instant TV Channel can provide automated playout scheduling for your Roku channel, allowing you to create a simulated live or linear stream using inexpensive video-on-demand content. No external playout server is required, each Roku player with your channel installed does its own scheduling and selects the correct individual video files to be played out linearly, simulating a live broadcast. Any Horizontal List, Vertical List, or Series can be converted to a Playout Schedule with only a few mouse clicks. An entire channel can be converted to a Playout Schedule too.

• This Instant TV Channel help article only applies to Developer SDK Roku channels. Roku does not support these features in Direct Publisher channels.
• Your Instant TV Channel account Developer Mode must be set to Advanced in order to view or change Playout Schedule settings. You can change the Developer Mode from the Instant TV Channel Account page.
• Your channel must either be newly created or be at Update #220 or higher in order to use Automated Playout Scheduling.
• Any old items within your channel created prior to Update #220 cannot be scheduled. To schedule an old item it must be recreated, for example by copying the old item's Stream Url and Length parameters to a new content item.

To configure a list for Automated Playout Scheduling:

  1. From the Content Editor, select an existing Horizontal List, Vertical List, or Series by clicking on the yellow folder icon in the upper left hand window.
  2. Scroll down the parameter list until you see the AutomaticPlay parameter. Set the AutomaticPlay parameter to schedule.
  3. Choose an AutomaticPlayControls setting:
    • full - All remote control transport functions are enabled, including pause, fast-forward and rewind. The buffering progress bar is displayed. The buffering message text format options are not available. A bug/watermark overlay is not displayed.
    • pause+skip - The remote control pause button is enabled. The fast-forward button skips ahead to the next video. The rewind button skips back to the previous video. The buffering progress bar is not displayed. Several buffering message text format options are available to control how an optional buffering message is displayed. The HDOverlayUrl and SDOverlayUrl parameters can be used to specify a bug/watermark overlay to be displayed on top of the video.
    • pause - The remote control pause button is enabled. The fast-forward and rewind buttons are disabled. The buffering progress bar is not displayed. Several buffering message text format options are available to control how an optional buffering message is displayed. The HDOverlayUrl and SDOverlayUrl parameters can be used to specify a bug/watermark overlay to be displayed on top of the video.
    • none - The remote control pause, fast-forward and rewind buttons are disabled. The buffering progress bar is not displayed. Several buffering message text format options are available to control how an optional buffering message is displayed. The HDOverlayUrl and SDOverlayUrl parameters can be used to specify a bug/watermark overlay to be displayed on top of the video.
  4. Choose an AutomaticPlayBuffering setting:
    • show no text - Do not show any text while the videos are buffering.
    • show content Title - Show the Title text while the videos are buffering. This is the default setting.
    • show content ShortDescriptionLine1 - Show the ShortDescriptionLine1 text while the videos are buffering.
    • show content ShortDescriptionLine2 - Show the ShortDescriptionLine2 text while the videos are buffering.
    • show AutomaticPlayText - Show the text of the AutomaticPlayText parameter while the videos are buffering.
  5. Optionally change the AutomaticPlayText parameter text. The default text is "Please wait, buffering...". This text is displayed while the video is buffering when AutomaticPlayBuffering is set to show AutomaticPlayText.
  6. If AutomaticPlayControls is not set to full, then several additional buffering message parameters are available. These parameters determine how the buffering message is displayed.
    • AutomaticPlayTextPrefix - A sequence of characters that is added to the beginning of the text selected by the AutomaticPlayText parameter. The special character sequence %0A (linefeed) can be used to adjust the text position on the screen.
    • AutomaticPlayTextSuffix - A sequence of characters that is appended to the text selected by the AutomaticPlayText parameter. The special character sequence %0A (linefeed) can be used to adjust the text position on the screen.
    • AutomaticPlayTextColor - The color of the buffering message text.
    • AutomaticPlayTextSize - The size of the buffering message text.
    • AutomaticPlayTextHAlign - The horizontal position of the buffering message text.
    • AutomaticPlayTextVAlign - The vertical position of the buffering message text. One or more %0a linefeed characters can be added to the beginning or the end of the AutomaticPlayText parameter to adjust the vertical position of the text higher or lower on the display.

To configure the playout time for each item within a Playout Scheduled List:

  1. From the Content Editor, select an existing item or list within the Playout Scheduled List by clicking on the item's icon in the upper left hand window. To view the icons you may need to expand the Playout Scheduled List by clicking on the + symbol to the left of the list's name.

    The following items and lists can be scheduled to play, be displayed, or execute at specific times:

    • Video Content Item
    • Audio Content Item
    • Picture Screen Content Item
    • Text Screen Content Item
    • Horizontal List
    • Vertical List
    • Grid
    • Series
    • MRSS Feed or Playlist
    • Programmable Button

    Ads cannot be scheduled, but can be run as prerolls or postrolls with any scheduled video items. Simply place the Ads in the same list as the video items, or in a parent list of the video items.

  2. In the lower window, choose a Schedule Play Mode setting:
    • off - Do not schedule this item. This is the default setting.
    • daily - Play or display the item every day at the scheduled Time.
    • weekly - Play or display the item on the specified day each week at the scheduled Time.
    • monthly - Play or display the item on the specified date each month at the scheduled Time.
    • leader - Play or display the item in a repeating loop until the subsequent item in the list begins. Leaders are position sensitive and only apply to the scheduled daily, weekly, monthly or relative item following it in the list. Uninterruptable Leaders do not affect the starting time of the subsequent item. Leaders override Fillers, if an item has a Leader then no Fillers will be used.
    • filler - Play or display the item in a repeating loop if nothing else in the list is scheduled. If there are multiple Fillers, then they are looped in the sequence in which they appear in the list. Fillers apply to the entire list, and do not need to be placed in any specific position within the list. Uninterruptable Fillers do not affect the starting time of the subsequent item.
    • follower - Play or display the item immediately after the preceding item in the list. If there are multiple consecutive Followers, then they are played in the sequence in which they appear in the list. Followers are position sensitive and only apply to the scheduled daily, weekly, monthly or relative item that they follow.
    • relative - Play or display the item once at the specified amount of Time after the start of the list. Typically a list containing relative items is nested within another Playout Scheduled List and has its own specific starting time.

      For example, a Time of 00:00:00 will play immediately. A Time of 02:30:00 plays 2.5 hours after the list was started.

  3. If Play was set to daily, weekly, monthly or relative, then it is necessary to set the time-related parameters that determine when the item should be played or displayed.

    All time-related parameters are based on either GMT or the local time of the Roku player depending on the setting of the Theme Editor ScheduleTimeZone parameter. The default setting is "local". Each Roku player's timezone is set when the player is initially configured by the owner. Players periodically synchronize their internal clocks with a master Roku time server so that they are accurate to within a few seconds.

    Time-related parameters:

    • Time - When used with daily, weekly, or monthly items, Time specifies the time at which the item should begin to play or be displayed. If the current time is later than the specified Time for a video item, then the start of play will be offset into the video stream an appropriate amount to simulate a live stream in progress. If the current time is later than Time for a Picture Screen or Text Screen, then the item's PictureTimer or TextTimer parameter will be reduced by an appropriate number of seconds.

      When used with relative items, Time specifies a delay after the list starts. When the delay expires then the item will play or be displayed.

    • Day - Used with weekly items along with Time to specify the day of the week that the item is to be played or displayed.
    • Date - Used with monthly items along with Time to specify the date of the month that the item is to be played or displayed.

    It is extremely important that each video content item has an accurate value for its Length parameter. The Length parameter is used by the scheduling system to determine whether or not an item can be partially played if it is later than the item's scheduled starting time. It is generally better to slightly underestimate the length of a video content item, as this will only prevent the video from being started when near the end of its runtime. If the length of a video content item is overestimated, then other items related to the video such as Leaders, Followers, and BufferPictures may be needlessly displayed.

  4. Many scheduled items will have an Interruptable parameter. The default setting of True allows the item to be interrupted if another schedule item is ready to play. When set to False the item will not be interrupted, even if another item is scheduled to play. Setting Interruptable to False may disrupt the schedule of subsequent items. Setting a Leader's or Filler's Interruptable parameter to False will not affect the start time of the subsequent item.
  5. Click the New button to schedule the item to play or be displayed more than once.

Picture Screen items have additional parameters that make them particularly useful as bumpers to scheduled videos when they are used as Leaders, Fillers, or Followers:

  • NextScheduleEnable - When set to True, overlay a message on top of the Picture image.
  • NextScheduleText - The text of the message to overlay on top of the Picture Image.
  • NextScheduleTimeFormat - Optional time text to append to the message.
    • off - Do not append anything to the message.
    • countdown - Append an hh:mm:ss countdown to the next scheduled item to the end of the message.
    • time - Append the hh:mm:ss time of the next scheduled item to the end of the message.
    • date+time - Append the date and hh:mm:ss time of the next scheduled item to the end of the message.
  • NextScheduleTextColor - The color of the message.
  • NextScheduleTextSize - The size of the message.
  • NextScheduleTextHAlign - The horizontal alignment of the message.
  • NextScheduleTextVAlign - The vertical alignment of the message. One or more %0a linefeed characters can be added to the beginning or the end of the AutomaticPlayText parameter to adjust the vertical position of the text higher or lower on the display.

Nesting is fully supported:

  • Lists, including Playout Scheduled Lists, can be nested inside Playout Scheduled Lists.
  • When a nested list is entered as part of a schedule, it can only be exited if the user clicks the remote control BACK or UP button, if the user clicks a Programmable Button poster, or if a Programmable Button is encountered as part of the schedule.
  • Clicking the remote BACK or UP button while viewing an item in a Playout Scheduled List will exit from all nested levels of Playout Scheduled Lists to the first list or level that is not scheduled.

For more information about how to build a Roku channel using Instant TV Channel, please see this Quick Walk-Through from the help library.

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



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