MLB Acknowledges HD Video Problems For Some Users, Details Fix
About two weeks ago I got a bunch of e-mails from MLB.TV users who came across my recent post on MLB.TV's video offering telling me that they and others like them are still experiencing major problems getting MLB's HD stream to work. A quick check of the MLB support boards shows that a limited number of users are still having problems nearly two months into the season. Some of the users are also complaining that a few of the features that MLB.TV advertised as being available in the new player were not yet offered.
Around the same time I got these e-mail I had experienced some of the same issues with MLB's HD video stream when I was traveling and using the service. To find out what's really going I had a quick chat last week with Bob Bowman, President and CEO of MLB Advanced Media who filled me in on the problem and how many users it's really affecting.
Bob said some users are still experiencing problems getting MLB's NextDef HD stream to work but said the number of users affected is under one tenth of one percent. He said the problem lies in the Swarmcast plugin and only seems to occur when MLB has a lot of games starting and finishing at the same time. He said they still see this problem on occasion and that it is much better than it was but that it does fail once or twice a week. As of last week, MLB changed the way the streams worked so that when a viewer can't get the HD stream, they are automatically falling over to the SD version. Bob said that they think they have identified the issue that is causing the problem and have a patch internally that should fix the problem. He said they don't plan to roll out any new version of the player specifically to address the Swarmcast issue.
In regards to the problems some people have experienced, Bob said it is way down from last year and so far, the number of refunds or cancellations is only in the "hundreds". As of last week, MLB.TV had 600,000 total subscribers across the desktop and wireless and MLB.TV has had over a 40% growth rate from last year. Not surprisingly, Bob said the number one complaint and reason for users calling MLB.TV support comes from something pertaining to the blackout restrictions.
One of the other issues that some users have been complaining about it why the MLB.TV player is not allowing you to do picture in picture with an audio only feed. Bob said the audio sync functionality should be coming in the next week or two and I'm going to check out some games tonight to see if the feature has already launched since Bob and I last spoke. While on the phone, I also asked Bob for more details on the business arrangement with Adobe and whether or not Adobe basically bought MLB's business. While Bob didn't get into exact details he did say that the deal with Adobe was very straight forward and was the type of standard hardware and software deal that they do with the dozen or so partners they have in their video ecosystem.