Home MLBBST Game Guides MLB.tv going Flash

MLB.tv going Flash

by Matt Smith

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.  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 away  (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. 

It would be fair to say that Silverlight was less than popular with many MLB.tv subscribers.  The fact that MLB.com are switching away from it does suggest that they were not completely satisfied with the product either.  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!).  CubsFan on the UK MLB Supporters Forum recently posted a link to the press release alongside various articles about the decision.  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.  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”.  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.  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.  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.

You may also like


Chico January 18, 2009 - 11:15 pm

Matt: Whatever happens, I hope you guys get MLB games in a nice clear form. I realize we are spoiled here in the States with all the options available. I am enjoying the recently launched MLB station in HD. Are you going to be able to get that if a TV deal comes about? How is that situation doing with the Five decision to drop USA sports?

Matt Smith January 19, 2009 - 10:54 am

Hi Chico. We haven’t heard any further details about Five’s decision yet. The current economic climate doesn’t help matters because budgets are tight everywhere. While some of us love the game over here, and particularly Five’s coverage of it, it’s not going to be a priority for other people and that makes it vulnerable. I’m remaining optimistic though!

I think it’s unlikely in the near future that the MLB Network will arrive on our screens unfortunately. The North American Sports Network (owned by ESPN) has a certain amount of exclusive rights in regards to MLB content up until the end of the 2010 season. In truth, there’s not a big market for a 24/7 baseball channel in the U.K. right now. Maybe one day!

wrveres January 19, 2009 - 1:42 pm

is direct TV not on option either?

Matt Smith January 19, 2009 - 7:02 pm

Nope, not in Britain.

Drood January 27, 2009 - 8:11 am

That’s awesome to hear. Silverlight is horrible for a variety of reasons. Since AIR apps run in Linux, there’s a good chance that MLB fancypants software will work there, which is great.

Depending on pricing (one would hope with the economic downturn they may lower the prices a little. Especially as the Canadian dollar is getting beaten to death right now by the US, but not as bad as the UK pound is) I might sign up for a tour this year. I felt the software solutions they’ve used recently were atrocious and unreliable.

Going back to Flash is a good sign. And using AIR, that gets me all excited too.

Funny. It was just a couple of years ago they pimped how awesome Silverlight was.

Matt Smith January 28, 2009 - 7:01 am

Hi Drood. Yes, it looks like good news all around. Hopefully the prices are set at a fair level so that as many people as possible can enjoy the product.

Drood January 29, 2009 - 6:19 am

Have they made it any easier to cancel I wonder? Half the reason I’ve not bothered in recent times is you seemingly need to call them, and I don’t have a phone. (Well not one I’m prepared to burn all the money just so I can sit there on hold for half an hour.)

The return to Flash is a great thing. I’ve yet to see anything in Silverlight to make me think it’s anything but a cheap Flash ripoff. I mean Flash isn’t without its flaws, don’t get me wrong, but Silverlight just seemed to cause a lot of aggravation.

Matt Smith January 29, 2009 - 10:44 am

Probably not! MLB have always been good at keeping your money so I don’t suppose that’s about to change. To be honest, I’ve always saved up for the annual subscription so it’s not something I’ve ever struggled with, although I know it’s been a different story for many other people.

peter January 31, 2009 - 7:37 pm

when will the prices of the gamedayaudio be out

Matt Smith January 31, 2009 - 8:49 pm

Hi Peter. Last year the prices were announced on 9 February, so hopefully within the next week to ten days.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.