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Hoo TV

Joined: 8/29/12 Posts: 28320
Likes: 16039

Yes, I just capture the WatchESPN replay streams, by looking under the hood

of the WatchESPN client stream player to get whatever the negotiated stream URL is. It's different for every access, but each is good for about 8 hours or so.

Capturing the LIVE streams is fret with problems. In particular, the commercials are often, if not usually, the same resolution, bitrate, or frame rate, and this tends to confuse video editing/transcoding/remuxing software, so I've pretty much abandoned the practice, and since you still get the commercials, editing them out is a pain. Besides, the replays become available so quickly these days, it's just easier to grab them instead, especially if/when they're commercial-free.

I'll often view the live streams this way that are online-only, and occasionally I'll still capture them, too, basically when I just happen to think of it, but only so I can relatively quickly excise, work up, and post a slo-mo replay of some controversial call.

I provide a How-To for capturing the WatchESPN stream URLs, then viewing them using non-WatchESPN players, and even recording them like I do:

"Hoo TV Makes WatchESPN Look GOOD"

Kodi + its ESPN3 add-on is my preferred way to capture the stream URLs, but its stream listings can sometimes leave a lot to be desired, e.g., 4 identically labeled stream listings for 4 very different streams, like "regular", In-Spanish, SkyCam, and Alternate Angles.

BTW, these stream URLs can then be played by anybody anywhere in the world since it's the result of having already negotiated access based on the U.S. geo-location of my (public) IP address and my TV service provider plan. In fact, that's what I do now, instead of re-streaming games using streaming services based on centralized servers, like YouTube, although I will still do that from time to time. Instead, I provide pre-negotiated WatchESPN stream URLs. You just need to BYOP (Bring Your Own Player), but I also provide a How-To doc describing many different ways to view and even record them.

"How to View and/or Record HLS URLs"

But as simple as I've tried to make it, it's still apparently too much for most. For example, there were 30+ viewers for my unlisted YouTube live stream of our NC game, but only 8 takes of personal HLS URLs.

As for commercials, back when WatchESPN replay streams used the RTMP protocol and I would capture them, I DID usually edit out the commercial breaks, which were just largely black screen shots saying the stream was in a commercial break, so simple enough to software detect and automatically remove.

Then they switched to the HLS protocol. Thus meant they could splice in live stream commercials from ad servers in real time, but the commercials were absent from the replays, not even the black screen shots saying the stream was in a commercial break.

Now they seem to (maybe) be moving toward splicing commercials into the replays, too, perhaps targeted commercials, at least based on the geo-location of your IP address. It makes sense, too, as yet another revenue stream, and I've often wondered why they weren't doing this, not that I was complaining. Now maybe they are/will.

But it also seems to depend on how you view them. For example, I don't get the commercials if I view the replays via Kodi, but I do if you view them using a web browser, Roku, Android phone, or iPad. For our game vs. Yale, I get one at the very start of the stream and then again at the usual commercial breaks, e.g., the 7:50 (game clock) mark of the 1st quarter.

This stuff has always been sort of a moving target, and more than just a few times they've thrown a monkey wrench into the process causing me to have to figure it out all over again, e.g., switching protocols from RTMP (replay only) to HDS (live only) to HLS (replay only, then live and replay). RTMP is Adobe, primarily used with Flash, HDS is Adobe's version of HTTP streaming protocol and a direct competitor to Apple's HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) protocol, using MPEG-TS (MPEG Transport Stream), the most prevalent streaming protocol at the moment. Eventually it'll probably all be replaced by MPEG-DASH (MPEG Dynamic Adaptive Streaming [over] HTTP)

As an aside, if you look at one of the HLS URLs that you're actually streaming when you click on a stream at WatchESPN, it's a big hairy mess, e.g.,,null,_fw_euid,6BA3CAEE-0C34-442B-92E1-8E2DD8CE629B&ad.ulbd=1&eid=a111906056&ct=e&tc=1&exp=1559197713&rn=1015834824&linearv=4&ptid=ESPN3_Events_VDMS&euid=ESPN3_VDMS&sig=3af3eee31eee47e227d7041967523d44b20e3620f442f13e1c6d6c1e3c1a4dc3&pbs=fc62acea8edb4a589776923121ccbc0b

most of which you don't need. In fact, by process of elimination, the above still plays exactly the same way if everything is eliminated except:

Don't ask me why. I don't pretend to understand all the different parameters and their values. Much of it is encrypted in some sort of hash anyway. There IS one I understand, however, i.e., "exp", whose value is the UNIX Epoch time of the creation of the URL, which is probably used to determine when the URL EXPires. But I never whittle them down to just the above. If I did, I'd risk probably screwing it up.

(In response to this post by Gatsby)


Posted: 05/30/2019 at 05:58AM


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