In my recent review of MLB.com for 2008, I highlighted the major switch to Silverlight and the possibility that extra features could be introduced this year as a result.Â Matt W immediately picked me up on that point, noting in the comments that the MLB Support team had confirmed that Silverlight would not be used any more and that they would be switching to a Flash player.
With the announcement of the subscription details for the 2009 season likely being just a month awayÂ (they were released on 9 February last year), some extra publicity of this decision may convince more potential subscribers to start budgeting so that they can sign up.Â
It would be fair to say that Silverlight was less than popular with many MLB.tv subscribers.Â The fact that MLB.com are switching away from it does suggest that they were not completely satisfied with the product either.Â At the very least, moving to a Flash based player will ensure that their groundbreaking coverage of approximately 2,500 live games per year will be delivered to subscribers using a tried and tested method utilised all over the internet.
Adobe’s press release on this development was issued back in November and went unnoticed by many people (including myself!).Â CubsFan on the UK MLB Supporters Forum recently posted a link to the press release alongside various articles about the decision.Â From the techy point of view, it seems that MLB.com’s abandonment of Silverlight could be a real blow for Microsoft and conversely a big coup by Adobe.Â The latter offers hope that MLB.com plans to work with their new partner to develop an even better service for its customers.
Evidence of this can be found in the press release, in which it is stated that the much-loved live streaming and archived content will be joined by “a downloadable rich Internet application (RIA) built using Adobe AIR”.Â According to Jim Guerard, vice president and general manager of Dynamic Media at Adobe, this will allow MLB fans to “experience statistics and highlights outside the [web] browser”, something described by Bob Bowman, CEO of MLB.com. as “a new desktop experience”.
Baseball fans will be eager to find out exactly what form this will take, and how useful it will be.Â It is probable that we will have to wait until the regular season starts before we get any definitive answers, particularly as several Silverlight features available during Spring Training last year were ultimately dropped when the season began.Â Perhaps we will get our first look at the potential of the new application during the World Baseball Classic in March?
The MLB.com Support Team have stated on their forum that they currently intend to stick to the same streaming options as in 2008 (400K, 800K, and 1.2M), which is good news for those of us concerned that the ‘lowest quality’ feed might be phased out in the near future (having a sharper picture is of little use if it is constantly buffering on your set-up, as I regularly find with mine).
However, the Adobe Flash press release makes it clear that MLB.com will not be standing still when it comes to providing excellent mutlimedia content to baseball fans.