The Recycle Bin

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Silverlight and MLB.tv

with 16 comments

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.

MLB.tv
MIX07
Silverlight

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Written by Nathan

May 1, 2007 at 11:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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16 Responses

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  1. nate,
    number one, that player is phenomenal for someone sitting in front of their computer. i wonder how many users already have a pc in the living room.

    number two, that is baseball in a whole different way. customizable widgets? live player updates? good stuff. i noticed it uses the new aesthetics of vista.

    number three, i hate websites or apps with 65 moving parts. i dont know who likes their internet like that except for the millions and millions of myspace users.

    doug

    June 5, 2007 at 9:59 pm

  2. wow. a comment. it was getting kind of lonely here.

    you mentioned the player not working well with TVs, imagine those Vista SideShow remote controls working with your TV. could be pretty interesting.

    and dont be too hard on the myspace people. theyre useful in a sort of way. they provide us with great examples of how not to make a webpage.

    -nathan

    Nathan

    June 5, 2007 at 10:35 pm

  3. here’s another thought. this kind of media delivery is the type of app that could replace the cable/dvd/tvo consortium in the living room. definently for people comfortable bit torrents, and for anybody if the content becomes available, which it inevitably will. the key to that is the box that hooks up to the tv though, i guess.

    brother novs

    June 6, 2007 at 8:16 am

  4. Well, it is March, and that means Spring Training. And that means I head over to MLB.com to pay my $15 for a year of audio… I was surprised to see the Silverlight option listed and wondered if it was worth getting the plugin (thus I find myself here). Still haven’t tried it, but to answer your other question, I like websites that might have 65 interactive possibilities, but not 65 moving parts that I’m not telling to move. Of course I’m not 16 or 17.

    Alan

    March 1, 2008 at 7:23 am

  5. Alan,
    The plug in is really small, ~2mb, so it doesn’t hurt to install it. As far as the quality goes, I listened to a game on Thursday and it sounded just as good as the old player did. I tried to watch a game on Friday however, and it was awful. I don’t know where the fault lies, but it seemed like it wasn’t close to being finished. It’s spring training for everyone, I guess.

    Nathan

    March 1, 2008 at 12:00 pm

  6. When I log in to watch a MLB game and hit play,
    I keep getting :

    Silverlight error message
    ErrorCode: 2207
    Error Type: RunTimeError
    Message: AG_E_Runtime_Method
    MethodName: Play

    Can anyone throw me a bone here?

    Daniel

    March 2, 2008 at 12:42 am

  7. One of the things I used to do with MLB.tv was view the streams with VLC media player instead of the default WMP. This was done using a firefox plugin. I would do this because I could crop the streams to 16:10 aspect ratio. I fear I will not be able to do this with the new player and those black bars drive me crazy. It would be nice for them to add a widescreen smart stretch or crop option.

    Gabe

    March 9, 2008 at 9:24 pm

  8. I’m having the same problem as Daniel above trying to use Silverlight to watch MLBTV. Error 2207. Using Vista. Any ideas ? Thanks.

    Mike

    March 12, 2008 at 2:09 pm

  9. I’ll third this issue, Silverlight gives me the 2207 error. I’ve re-installed several times to no avail. Anyone aware of a work-around to fix this would be a real hero. thanks!

    Kevin

    March 25, 2008 at 1:40 pm

  10. I tried the SilverLight last night (here in Germany) to watch the Yankee’s opening day
    game. (Rained out!!) I then watched the Royals-Tigers game and the quality using
    Silverlight was just awful (very jittery). I de-installed Silverlight + Plugin and went
    back to the old viewer at 800k, which was MUCH smoother.

    steve

    April 1, 2008 at 1:48 am

  11. 65 moving part websites?
    Beautiful silverlight players?

    How about letting me watch a baseball game? After all that was the point when I dropped down 120 bucks, right? I’ve used MLB.TV for 3 years now, and never had an issue before. I’ve had a PC connected to my 60 inch television in the living room for these 3 years and was able to enjoy any game I wanted. Now the 65 moving parts along with silverlight have taken this away. I now get this little bitty box in the middle of the screen with a whole bunch of black around it with an annoying media player bar running across the bottom. So much for the good old days of watching full screen (you know, where the picture actually covers every inch of the TV).

    Not to mention, so much for listening to opening day at work on my linux system. Never had a problem before, but now all of sudden SilverLight appears to be a requirement and I had to pull out the transistor radio. Thanks MLB, keep up the great work.

    John Blader

    April 1, 2008 at 7:04 am

  12. Hi, I’m an Italian baseball player and computer science engineer.
    Last year I was so happy to enjoy MLB.TV, because Italian pay-tv dismissed showing baseball games, than I was so pleased to know about this year bandwidth improvements to 1.2Mbits, dreaming about near HD baseball through the web!!!
    After an annoing 400k during spring training… I was horrified to see the poor quality and performance of what is claimed to be “the next generation of Windows Media technology from Microsoft”. That is the point MICROSOFT!
    The use of Silverlight is seen to me as a stupid awful patch to open the service to Mac users and to give you a ton of not-so-useful info during the game. But it is too much CPU consuming, works in software only mode, no hardware acceleration from the video card and…how to get full screen on a secondary monitor (i.e. on my TV in the living room!)

    Next the whole story…
    At the beginning I get a really bad frame-rate, I thought it was my PC, an old but highly optimized Athlon 1600+, so I went back uninstalling Silverlight. Now I can watch 800k videos streamed from USA, with video redirected to my TV, great but…
    1. Widescreen broadcasts has non correct 16:9 ratio, so that players seams to be like dwarfs :-)
    2. 4:3 broadcasts are enveloped in a 16:9 video stream: this result in a large not funny black frame that converts a 37inches 4:3 TV into a 25 one!
    3. Audio sometimes goes away.
    4. They want me to have Silverlight installed to watch the 1.2Mb streams!

    I hope that bugs around video formats and so on will be fixed like in the year before, but the Silverlight stuff…I would like not to upgrade my PC to support a stupid CPU consuming thing just because MLB.TV developers has no better ideas! (An optional child window…?)
    Silverlight, even with a powerful PC, is not the best way to play high bandwidth streams, does not use DirectVideo extentions that means no HW video optimization by the video card and, and for me, no TV output redirection from the PC to the TV in front of the coach!!!

    I can’t figure out how a big organization, like MLB.TV should be, has decided to develop such a silly technical solution!!! I say silly because you can’t expect every one has a super-CPU on his PC… for what? To have dynamic video resizing? To have baserunners live prospect? First give me the quality, give me the possibility to handle the video to the screen I want and, if you want, give me the possibility to have the other stuff, IF I WANT IT!
    I have seen a video interview with the developers that has brought that stupid Silverlight in mlb.com. They made them some questions, but they should have asked them: “why you have chosen such a poor performance optimized solution?” and then “do you think that the cost of the service is correctly covered by the performance of the service itself?” “Do you remember that the core service is video streaming?”

    MLB.com did a great job, putting live baseball on internet, but now things are going to a Microsoft-like direction: put a lot of things on the screen to make you say “WOW!”, but requiring a monster PC!
    Second thing, I’m not sure this Silverlight environment are covering expectations: a lot of users have my problems of low frame rate, even with powerful PCs or Macs!
    I hope for a solution of that problems, to bring this service to a better performance. A lot of baseball enthusiasts around the globe has no other way to watch MLB baseball!!!

    Thank you for your time!

    Gianfy82

    April 3, 2008 at 3:30 am

  13. I get the same error as the few fellas above. It seems some have been able to use the new system. Has anyone found a solution to the error msg?

    Peter

    April 9, 2008 at 10:56 am

  14. I agree with Gianfy82, get rid of Silverlight. The video quality is horrible.

    Ro

    June 27, 2008 at 3:59 pm

  15. I moved out of the blackout region for my favorite team so I decided to sign up with MLB.tv just now.

    Overall I agree with most of what Gianfy82 said. Silverlight was a poor choice. I’m not interested in popup video and other flashiness, I’d just like to watch a baseball game with reasonable video quality .. you’d think that by 2008 they’d be able to do it. Good grief.

    Greg

    August 2, 2008 at 9:28 pm

  16. Well MLB got rid of Silverlight after 2008. This year (2009) MLB will use Adobe Flash

    -> http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10098963-93.html

    jr

    January 29, 2009 at 8:15 pm


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