Flash? Silverlight? Doesn’t matter, because neither works

Yesterday I posted a link to an interview in which MLBAM’s Bob Bowman waxed happily about MLB.tv’s decision to go with Adobe Flash and drop Microsoft’s Silverlight. Today the Silverlight people snap back, airing some snark about all of the things you have to go through in order to make Flash actually, you know, work:

Today we saw that MLB went live with a video streaming solution that is built using Adobe Flash and the Swarmcast NexDef browser plug-in for their HD streaming video experience. It is an example of how you can deliver higher quality experiences on the Web. It also highlights how users are willing to accept additional browser plug-ins to get those experiences.

While Flash 9 may have high penetration, the Swarmcast NexDef plug-in that helps power MLB’s HD experience has virtually no adoption. Ubiquity here is a red herring – what customers really want are high quality solutions. Silverlight has been doing that since its inception and already supports the ability to deliver true HD using IIS Smooth Streaming with no additional plug-in required.

Rowr. Both sides should probably cool it considering that Silverlight screwed up last year’s opening day for web users and Flash, apparently, screwed up yesteday:

The Internet, of course, has made that easy, and as a result, MLB.com has become a part of every hardcore fan’s daily life for everything from checking scores to reading blogs, but mostly for watching live games. Every year I fork over a lot of money to see the games I absolutely can’t live without. And every year, MLB.com has done a good job of enhancing that experience.

Except this year — for the last three days, I’ve been trying to get their video service to work, with little or no success. I use a Mac and Firefox browser, and every time I bring up the video page, it freezes the browser. On Safari, the problems are even worse: I need to reboot the entire computer. The problem could be the Adobe Flash plugin, which has had a difficult relationship with Firefox and other Mac browsers. MLB.com also seems to be utilizing a new plugin that adds DVR-like functionality to the video streams. The problem has to one of these two products.

There will come a time when we wonder how we ever did without baseball streaming live on the Internet. That time, alas, is not today.

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  1. Robert said...

    Worked fine for me yesterday, and I am on a Mac OS X based machine. Maybe there’s something wrong with Om’s machine.

  2. Jon said...

    This is the third year that I have used the advanced MLB media and although there are usually some problems, this year there have been the least number of problems. I should also mention that I am using OS x.5 and it works on both Safari and Camino.

  3. David Rasmussen said...

    It works on my Mac, but not my Nokia WiFi device.  All I want is audio. An .mp3 stream would be fine.  Why does MLB insist on making everything so complex that it does not work?

  4. matt said...

    MLB.tv worked better for me yesterday than it has the last few opening days.  NexDef was beautiful when it worked, but around 4:00 or so it started getting choppy (more pausing than playing).  Turning NexDef off diminished the picture quality, but the video streamed smoothly.  It would be nice to see MLBam roll out a service that actually works as intended most of the time, but I guess that’s too much to ask.

  5. Matt Mitchell said...

    I’ve had problems running Gameday Audio at work. During the last couple years it has worked fine, but the move the Flash seems to not agree with the firewall.

  6. DXMachina said...

    My only problem was the Gameday audio Dodger feed for Dodgers-Padres shut down in the ninth inning. I was able to switch to the Padres feed with no problems, other than the Pads announcing team.

    I do dislike the new player. The old Windows media player feed showed the line score and worked fine. There was no need to change it.

    Of more concern right now is that none of yesterday’s archived audio feeds (at least the ones in English) seem to be available yet. They all say available soon (as do most of the video feeds). Last year it only took about a half hour or so after the game to get them posted.

  7. Jeff said...

    My only problem was the antiquated blackout rules that prevented me from watching the Yankees/Orioles game!  It wasn’t on tv here in NC since our cable doesnt carry MASN, but because we’re in MASN’s “territory” we couldn’t watch it on ESPN or MLB.tv. 

    Everything seemed to run fine when I was watching all the other teams play though!  Much better video quality on the premium service than last year.

  8. Dustin said...

    I don’t agree (grammatically) with your usage of “waxed happily”

    3. to grow or become: He waxed angry at the insinuation.

    But appreciate the content.

  9. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Yeah, I think you’re right, Dustin.  I felt wrong going with the adverb there, panicked a but and then simply hit “submit,” hoping it would get by the censors.  More time would have helped that one out.

  10. Bill said...

    My work computer doesn’t do well with the Flash stuff on Gameday Audio. The audio comes through fine, but the displays (box score, summary, the nifty graphic of the two teams you’re listening to when you switch games) update very slowly or not at all.

    Of course, three years ago it was a little real player box with no displays at all. So it seems kind of silly to complain.

  11. Bill said...

    I take it back, I’m going to complain. That little graphic with the team logos also lets you switch which feed you’re listening to (that is, the home guys or the away guys). When you switch over to the Sox/Rays broadcast, but the little graphic still has the Royals and White Sox up, so you’re stuck listening to the Red Sox announcers? That sucks.

  12. Leonidas Jones said...

    I was watching last night.  The player went out for about five minutes or so, right when Leyland pulled the Tigers off the field against the Jays.  It came back on and I saw the end of the game, but never the resolution of the problem.

    As to the problem Mac, other then that one issue, I had no problems at all I wonder if the problem machine was an Intel or a PPC.


  13. Grant said...

    I dunno about MLB’s stuff, but CBS’s March Madness On Demand worked like a dream for me. MLB should just use that technology, maybe. If that’s the technology they are using, well, then I guess it would work for me.

  14. Levi Stahl said...

    I’m with DXMachina: I only use the audio feed, and I really don’t like the new player. Unless my browser isn’t displaying something properly, it appears that you don’t get a line score or a stop button anymore.

    That said, yesterday was maybe the first opening day in five years when I haven’t had trouble getting it to work (aside, that is, from the WFAN feed being messed up initially). That’s progress.

  15. CH said...

    I run a Linux system (Ubuntu 8.04) which is easily the best OS I’ve ever used.  However, the Nexdef plugin does not work, at all, in any way, on any version of Linux. 

    I also have Windows Vista on this machine because it came pre-installed, so I figured I’d keep it there in case Ubuntu acted up.  I switched over to Windows, installed Flash 10 and the Nexdef plugin, and the HD feed is spectacular….when it’s actually playing.

    Incredibly choppy.  I had to reduce the quality to stop the lag.  They better get it together soon.  I will raise hell.

  16. Leonidas Jones said...

    I watched four innings of a game on a first gen iMac G5, running Leopard.  Last year I used Quick Time via the Flip for Mac plugin.  Silverfox never worked well at all.

    This year’s version is better. The picture jerks a bit, and, after a while the sound gets off synch, but not nearly as much as last.

    On Intels its really quite good. Picture is nearly TV (not HD) quality, and its very watchable.  So far, so good.


  17. Phil J said...

    is there anyone in the UK who’s tried it this season?

    I signed up in 06, and the quality was pretty dreadful – I had fast, reliable broadband, and the picture would break up and stop causing me to have to start again game again or try and guess on the progress bar where I was up to to try and start watching again.

    The other thing I found was that if I wanted to watch a game the next day, I had no way of starting the game without seeing the score – with the time difference, the whole point of me signing up is to watch Angel games ‘as live’. (I also noticed that NCAA.com had no mechanism of selecting a March Madness game without seeing the score of the game!)

    I’m tempted to sign up for mlb.tv this season, but fear it might be money-down-the-drain again….

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