The MLB Online Video Player

I have been a subscriber to the MLB.com video service for going on 4 or 5 years now. Every time I fire up the service to watch a live baseball game I am amazed at the technology we have today that provides this service. I can choose from any live game and with a click I can see the action. When I first signed up for the service it was using Windows Media Player to stream the video, then it evolved into a Flash player and last year they released the service using Silverlight. This year MLB has ditched Siliverlight in favor of Flash again (I assume they are using Flex). Last year the Silverlight player left a lot to be desired. Opening day of 2008 was a disaster, as the service was unusable for a big portion of users. It took days to resolve the issues, and MLB has placed most of the blame on this outage on the Silverlight platform.

Bob Bowman, the CEO of MLBAM, cited many issues in a recent interview as to why they switched back to the Adobe platform. It sheds some light onto the uphill battle that Microsoft has in trying to gain market share for Silverlight. One item of bickering between the two companies was that Silverlight needed administrative privileges on the machine that it was being installed to. This was not cool for many users who did not have these access rights on their work machines, thus rendering the service unusable while at the office. According to MLBAM Microsoft was unwilling to change that. Bowman also cited the mass usage of the Flash technology, with it already installed on a majority of the browsers in use today. Their new Adobe based player boasts true high definition video, picture in picture, and DVR like controls for pause, rewind and fast forward.

In my opinion this is quite a blow for Microsoft, as this was a very high profile user that got away. Microsoft has stepped up the ante with the list of features for Silverlight 3, but it was too late for MLB. Time to fire up some MLB.TV now and catch some more opening day action. Go Mets!

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