After Busy Start to Spring, MLBAM Off and Running With MLB.tv
More than 600 sports events in a six-week span, 100-plus events in a single day, 67 high-profile games during March Madness, and “a tradition unlike any other” — and that is before the first pitch of the Major League Baseball season is thrown out. It is all just part of an average spring season for MLB Advanced Media, which provides the backend streaming infrastructure for a variety of clients beyond MLB, including ESPN3.com, CBS Sports, Turner Sports.
Although September, when MLB pennant races converge with the kickoff of college football season, is MLBAM’s busiest month in terms of sheer volume, March and April provide a more dynamic challenge.
“March and early April is one of our most challenging times of the year because of the dynamic aspect of the events,” says Joe Inzerillo, SVP for multimedia and distribution, MLBAM. “We don’t have the tonnage of baseball games like we do in the summer, but we have so many different types of events with so many different partners. ESPN and MLB stuff is very [templated]: it goes into the same player all the time with the same functionality. While they’re both extraordinarily rich environments, they’re both extremely consistent. It’s the wild-card stuff that takes a lot more time and that is why this time of year is so difficult.”
Back to Baseball
After streaming more than 100 conference basketball-tournament games on March 10 on ESPN3.com (a record for the broadband network), all 67 games of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament on March Madness Live, and The Masters on CBSSports.com and Masters.com, MLBAM can now get back to what it does best: baseball.
MLBAM has given its MLB.tv subscription-based streaming service a major facelift for the 2012 season and, for the first time, made it available on Microsoft’s Xbox.
To start, MLBAM has upped the resolution of the video player, which now has a native size of 960×540 and is capable of streaming HD video at up to 4.5 Mbps depending on the user’s connectivity. In addition, the MLBAM has added further heuristics to the video player capable of detecting each user’s available bandwidth and the capacity of their system to offer the best possible video experience.
“The MLB.tv player on the Web has gotten a total refresh,” says Inzerillo. “We have expanded the player footprint to give you a higher resolution window. And based upon the availability of better bandwidth, we’ve increased the bitrates that we are making available to the player.”
In addition, this year, CBSSports.com Fantasy Baseball users can sync their roster with MLB.tv’s new Fantasy Live channel, which automatically pulls up video of the user’s players as they are playing.
“This is just one of the first steps towards the future of these types of services, with the system sous-chefing content to you based on preference as opposed to just taking what has been handed down,” says Inzerillo. “It allows you to sit back and have a passive experience with the players that you are interested in while also having an active set of preconfigured controls that make it do what you want to do.”
Also new is a Twitter module with added social functionality that will continue to add features as the season progresses.
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