Silverlight and MLB.tv
For those of you that haven’t been following the new Silverlight technology, I will provide some background. Silverlight , also called WPF/E, is Microsoft’s a new cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in designed to deliver rich multimedia through the web. In principle it is very similar to Adobe’s Flash and Flex technology, but it is an entirely different in design. The runtime environment includes a subset of the .NET framework, and the development tools allow for the integration of C#, AJAX, VB, and other web applications. This is an attempt by Microsoft to bring the rich graphical abilities and interoperability of the .NET framework onto the web. This simplifies the development process, and gives the web developer a lot more tools to use. One of the most interesting capabilities of Silverlight is its ability to stream HD video efficiently. Check out the Silverlight gallery page for some great samples.
Now on to the real point of this post. Las Vegas hosted MIX07 this week, which is a convention intended to demonstrate the capabilities of Silverlight, WPF, and .NET3.0. Numerous companies were there presenting their prototypes and sharing their ideas about how to use this technology to spread their multimedia. Among those presenting were Netflix, who will integrate Silverlight into their “Watch Now” feature and Fox Movies, who made a demo showing trailers for their new movies. Of course, the most important demonstration was done by Major League Baseball.
Here is a video from the MIX07 convention featuring Bob Bowman, President and CEO of MLB Advanced Media, and Justin Shaffer, VP New Media, introducing what MLB.tv plans to do with their player and how Silverlight will improve the experience.
There are a couple of interesting points in the video that I want to bring up. First, Bob Bowman claims that they create 8-10 DVDs worth of data every second. Which is a testament to how obsessed baseball fans are with statistics, video clips, and media.
The other point I want to discuss is Bob’s claim that his site can’t be simple and plain because it “has to appeal to 16-17 year olds and have 65 moving parts.” I am interested in the reader’s (all two of you) opinion on this, and also how you all feel about the new look of the MLB.tv player. Here’s mine opinion: I like the new MLB.tv player and I am excited about Silverlight. It provides web developers and media companies the freedom and flexibility on the web that they never had before and could lead to some beautifully designed and incredibly useful websites. On the other hand, it could pollute the web (even more so) with cluttered, annoying, and ultimately unnavigable sites. If designers truly believe that their websites need “65 moving parts” then I think the latter will happen more often than the former.