Sunday, May 19, 2013

Watching America's Test Kitchen on Roku

Recently PBS and PBS KIDS channels were made available on Roku. Unfortunately America's Test Kitchen is not a part of PBS shows offered on Roku and it is one of our favorite shows. I this post I will explain how you can watch this show on Roku.

More than one year of episodes is available to watch in your browser for free on the show website. If you subscribe, you can watch all seasons of the show. The trick is to use Roku to do this. I have to warn you that the process is somewhat time consuming and not everyone would want to do this.

You will need software listed below and you can use google to find it. All software is free.
  • rtmpdump - this is the tool used to download the episodes
  • RTMPDumpHelper - this tool is used to make downloading process very simple
  • ffmpeg - this tool is used to convert downloaded video to the format understood by Roku
  • MyMedia - this software is used to play videos on Roku. This can be substituted by any software capable of doing the same thing or by playing videos from the USB media if your Roku is capable of doing so.
First you need to download episodes that you want to watch. Unfortunately downloading must happen in real time  so you have to be patient here. You also can not download multiple shows at the same time. Install rtmpdump and RTMPDumpHelper you your computer. Open RTMPDumpHelper and navigate to America's Test Kitchen website. Select episode that you want to download. You will see that rtmpsuck.exe will save advertisement first and then will start saving the episode. You can ether watch the episode or can go and do something else for 20 odd minutes. After episode is finished playing in your browser you will have a copy on your hard drive. You can repeat this process for any episode that you want.

Next step is to convert the video in to format that Roku will recognize. The original video is encoded correctly but it is multiplexed in to flash video format. All you need to do is re-multiplex this video in to the mp4 container. Use following ffmpeg command line to it:

ffmpeg -i input-file.mp4 -acodec copy -vcodec copy output-directory/output-file.mp4

Replace your input and output file names with correct episode names.This command will very quickly re-multiplex video. It only takes few seconds per episode on any modern computer.

Now you can play your downloaded videos on Roku using MyMedia (my favorite), Plex or any one of many local playback apps. You can also put episodes on USB drive and play them directly on your Roku if your device supports it. As a bonus after you downloaded the show you can store it on DVD and watch it any time you want to in the future. The show is streamed in 640x352 resolution and looks very good on our CRT TV.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Just read on a forum that America'S Test kitchen is available through Amazon instant if you have that. I don't have it yet but might need it if we give up cable for good like I'm planning.