Fun with Windows Media Encoder, or: Free cable TV for wonko

I’ve got an idea.

A few months ago I wanted to watch the Academy Awards, but I was out of luck since our house is in some kind of black hole. We don’t get any broadcast TV stations, and we’ve been too lazy to order cable (even though it’d only cost us $8 a month). I was sure somebody would be streaming the Oscars on the web, but my searches yielded nothing. I couldn’t believe nobody was broadcasting streaming video of an internationally-televised event.

On the whole, I’ve enjoyed the lack of TV, but there are two things I miss: Comedy Central and BBC America. The Daily Show. Chappelle’s Show. Coupling. I miss these things. But they’re just not enough to justify paying for cable and putting up with all the other crap.

Here’s where my idea comes in.

All I need to to is throw a cheap TV capture card (which I have) into an old Windows machine (which I have), install Windows Media Encoder (which is free), plug this thing into the cable TV at my parents’ house, and write a web interface to let me change channels. Bingo: instant streaming cable TV over the Internet, and I haven’t paid a dime. The legality isn’t clear, but if I’m the only one watching the stream, I can’t imagine it’s much different from going over to their house and commandeering their remote, right?

I’ll have to investigate this further.