Friday, September 22, 2006

Chinese TV streaming/recording

A post by Pandagator introduced me to a nice new tool for saving streaming video media. I have experimented with a number of ways to record Chinese TV, and have a number of streams to watch. This one however has the benefit of being both free and not too technical.

There are a number of places where you can obtain streaming Chinese TV. My best sources came from this page of links. Note that most Chinese sites seem to prefer Windows technology so the media is targeted for Windows media player. Also the connection is not always reliable. Sometimes you can get a good connection, sometimes the server at the other vanishes from sight for a while or returns a busy signal. Your quality of connection may depend on the time of day or on your geographical location. On a good day however you can watch Chinese TV programs and listen to real Chinese (well real TV Chinese anyway).

The bad news is that non-windows users have a technical headache to get the TV ( problem I still haven't solved, but I mostly use Windows now), the connection is usually unrealiable, and you can only watch what is being streamed to you, so if you see something good it is a one shot only, you cannot replay.

I have managed in the past to record using methods that are either technically awkward or errr... distinctly dodgy. Sometimes I have recorded 7 hours or so and then picked through it for goodies afterwards. It is a great way to listen to Chinese. Another huge advantage of recording is that you can often record streams when the connection is too poor to watch in realtime (the player just keeps trying to buffer).

The opensource program (SDP) detailed by Pandagator really works though, it is a bit rough around the edges but well worth learning how to use.

You will need some media urls to use with the application. You can start with the one Pandagator detailed NTDTV although bear in mind that this one is funded from outside China and may have a political agenda, it does usually have a strong connection though. Some sources will play in media plugins on the webpage but you can usually find the urls you need by viewing the text source of the page. You can also track down urls from this excellent page. These are not realtime streams but saved CCTV programs designed to be played via a stream. CCTV also provide pages with text for the dialogues :):).

A nice multi-platform media player you can play your recordings on is VLC. VLC is well worth having anyway especially for those moments when you download some interesting media file from somewhere and media player coughs up a codec not recognised error.


Mashhood said...

Hey Chris, check out PPLive - this is an excellent program that gives one access to hundreds of chinese programs as well as chinese subtitled programs. It ranges from movies, sports, soap operas, to cartoons.
If you can't find it, pm me on chinesepod - i can send u the program.


Chris said...

Hey Mashood that PPLive sounds real good, I just been reading about it thanks to your tip, I will give it a go this weekend.

I will be posting about
soon, a Chinese emule network peer to peer search engine. You can get hold of a lot of Chinese media with the emule client. Including English shows with Chinese subs (sound wierd but good for early reading practice).

Chris said...

Hey mashood, I just had and cunning thought. PPLive apparently fakes a stream through one of your local ports
which means you should be able to record it with a recorder :)

Mashhood said...


Oops, sorry i forgot about my post.

Do you think it would also be possible to record the media using windows media encoder?
I don't understand what you mean about faking a stream through a local port, could you explain how that could help one to record the media?

Chris said...

Hi Mashood,
Sorry about that it doesn't really 'fake' a stream it actually uses a port on your local computer. Imagine a port a doorway for data to go in and out of which one computer can have many. Usually when you connect to a stream on an online server you are connecting to one addressed port 'doorway' on a remote computer. If you use PPLive and view on WMP then that doorway is on your local computer.

It is a good program, I will post about my playing experiances in a day or so. You can use media encoder but I don't know if you can from a stream yet. Basically I put the capture mode on screen and then played the output from PPLive on fullscreen (hamfisted but it works) you may need to play around to get the best combination of settings etc.

Chris said...

Sorry Mashood.
Correction you can't use Windows encoder it blanks out streams. You can use Videolan though. I will do some more testing and post a roadmap to reocrding for free (both normal streams and PPLive).

Mashhood said...


It's ok,I have videolan player as well. I'll wait for your instructions, thank you :)

In the meantime, i'll find some good soaps to watch, haha. I tried the Devil Beside you series -but find it has too much background music :( however there is a lot of choice here.

Anonymous said...

hello ,I am a chinese from Beijing. Wish you can make friends with me.

Pepper said...

TVU broadcasts quite a few Chinese stations. You need to install the player though.

Chris said...


Thank you for the link, another way to watch Chinese TV :) only a few stations on there but easy to access.

@anonymous from Beijing.
I have no way to get in touch with you. Drop me an email (if you have already I will probably reply shortly.