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Old TV Schedules: A ride to the vet.

More than a year ago, we began a top-to-bottom rebuild of the tools that allows PBS stations to automatically embed their TV schedules onto their station websites. Back in January, we finished replacing all the modules and components, and announced that we’d be retiring the old version.

That new version was rebuilt from the ground up, with better functionality, more ability to customize, and a sleek design. We automatically deployed the new version to all stations using Bento for their core website. And most non-Bento stations have gradually added it to their sites.

Now it’s time for the old TV schedule software (technically known as “TV Schedules API v.1,” but more affectionately known as “that piece of junk”) to go visit a farm in rural Virginia to live out the rest of its days.

OK, that’s a euphemism. We’re going to pull the plug, on July 30.

We’ve been reminding station’s digital leaders of that for months, but still see a few stations using that old cold. They need to switch – in the next two weeks – or there’ll be a couple of gaping, ugly holes in their website where their schedule used to be. Even more important, we have some security concerns about the old version.

Generally, schedules appear on station sites in two different ways:

* In a “what’s on now” module – typically on the home page, and often in the header of every page.

* Then in an expanded version, which typically lives on its own page or section of the site.

We’ll be calling and emailing those digital leaders in the next few days to remind them. But if you’re curious and want to check your site, here’s an easy method.

The new “what’s on” module looks something like this (though many stations have customized the colors and other parts of the look and feel):

The old, soon-to-be-put-to-sleep version looks like this:


Here’s the full-schedules – in the new version:


… and the old:


If you still have the old version, contact your SPI team rep immediately, or shoot an email to pbsi_spi@pbs.org.

One more note about schedules: This update, sadly, has nothing to do with the separate issue of the listings data that appears inside the modules. We know – and share – the frustrations many of you have with our listings provider. (Believe me: There is no affectionate nickname for them – but some of us do wish we could make them “go live on a farm.”)

A group from the SPI team and our products group is gathering information on the consistent problems stations are having – updates being ignored, listings information routinely being left out and the like. We’re demanding immediate, significant improvements from the listing provider – and starting to think about alternatives.

Tom Davidson | Senior Director | PBS Digital


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