Blog Post

Microsoft’s Silverlight Gets The HD Start For March Madness; Can It Convert?

A high-profile opportunity for Microsoft’s Silverlight — while Windows Media Player will provide the basic player for the 2009 NCAA March Madness on Demand on, Silverlight will power a “high-definition quality” feed. (The standard offers about 550 kb/s while Silverlight should be up to 1.5 mb/s.) Both will be ad-supported and provided at no charge to viewers; will repeat last year’s full 63-game slate. But is it a straight win?

The Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) video player is used for the *CBS* College Sports Network subscription package but the network has used it only once that I know for a no-charge game — when Microsoft sponsored a live webcast of the 109th Army-Navy football game last fall. Microsoft is an MMOD sponsor this year and while CBS (NYSE: CBS) isn’t saying so explicitly, this is a similar situation. SVP Jason Kint told the Sports Business Journal, which first reported the partnership, that Microsoft was making a significant ad spend but won’t get branding on the player.

More after the jump.

Microsoft needs ways to showcase Silverlight, which lost MLB.TV to larger rival *Adobe* Flash. The nature of March Madness, which starts with two intense days of live streaming video and tapers off when office viewers start to watch from home during the second round, gives Silverlight another high-traffic chance to show what it can do. (MMOD delivered 5 million video hours last year.) Will it make the cut when Microsoft isn’t a sponsor?

Photo Credit: Nick Hodge