MLB.TV Adds HD Viewing

12 Comments

I don’t follow baseball, but I may start, just to check out the new media player from MLB.TV. Rolling out in time for spring training, the new MLB.TV video player features DVR capabilities that let you pause and rewind live games, live game chat and if you have a fast enough connection, you can now watch games in HD.

mlb_tv

The New York Times reports that half a million people shelled out $120 to subscribe to the MLB.TV service last year. In these tough economic times, the league is looking to keep those impressive subscriber numbers up by lowering the price to $110 for the season (or $80 for a version with fewer features).

The MLB’s video player will use the Swarmcast CDN to help determine a user’s connectivity and deliver the best quality feed available ranging from 400k to 3mbps, which the company says, provides 720p quality. The league is also using Flash for its video after kicking Microsoft’s (s MSFT) Silverlight to the curb last year.

I may not get the appeal of baseball, but baseball definitely gets online video. It almost has to. With its day games and jam-packed schedule, baseball needs to be accessible to fans at almost anytime. And while MLB charges a premium, it puts every game online (except where blackout rules apply) and offers fans enough customization options — like following a fantasy league player and layering a radio broadcast over video feed — to make that its offerings well worth the steep subscription price.

12 Comments

3yearsubscriber

You should all know that the product is not performing well right now. The player is plagued with stutters, high quality video is often dropped or not avaialble, and many of the promised features have not been included. Top it off with some of the worst customer service I have ever come across and you have a very flawed service. It has not been a good year for MLB.TV subscribers.

Neal Page

Chris you are right. MLB does indeed “get online video.” There is a lot behind the scenes which makes up a successful and profitable online video experience. Besides the obvious: quality content, viewers who care, and the benefits of online availability you can’t otherwise get, the infrastructure to deliver video is critical and often overlooked. It is a particularly critical yet often overlooked requirement for scaling online video distribution.

As part of MLB’s major overhaul of their streaming infrastructure for the 2009 season. Inlet Technologies’ Spinnaker 7000s (www.inlethd.com) are now powering the live streams and Inlet workflow software is utilized within the infrastructure. Encoding templates have been modified reflecting the latest in compression art and technique video, particularly for live HD streaming. The Inlet Spinnaker platform is one of the few functional, easy solutions for live flash streaming that works today.

These upgrades will result in a notable quality improvement for both SD and HD compared to the production from 2008. Lower prices and higher quality reaching HD resolutions means an improved value to the customer. While you may not be a baseball fan, I’m pretty sure you will be impressed with the updated quality and user experience.

Nat

Too bad blackout restrictions make it useless for following the team in your own city. After unplugging from cable, MLB remains the one chunk of content I can’t get through an alternative source.

I would gladly pay for a season subscription to follow my home team if they would allow me to do it.

Om Malik

Chris

In order to get baseball, all you have to do is go to the game, watch the game, feel the sun on your face, and enjoy the sweet music that is made when a ball meets the swinging back and goes for a long flight. It is magic. It is fundamentally a game, but one that has more drama than any day time soap.

Try it sometimes.

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