MLB.tv – the 2009 Season experience

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

I’ve been a customer of MLB.tv for three years now. And every single year, a new adventure is born.

  • The first year, they were using Windows Media streams. It worked pretty well, both in Windows and Linux. Unfortunately, I had a lot of issues losing the connection (especially near the end of the game) and often had trouble reconnecting. I know the problem was on their side; their servers were just getting hammered.
  • The second year, MLB moved to Silverlight (with the Windows Media streams as backup). This was actually much better (at least, after the initial issues were fixed). The video quality was better in Silverlight and I don’t think I lost the connection ever. And I could still use the WM streams in Linux. Unfortunately, they started showing really annoying commercials between innings — they were overly loud and repetitive (I often saw the same commercial multiple times during the same inning break).Another great new feature was introduced in September: MLB.tv offered both home and away feeds. So I could finally watch YES for away games. Woot!
  • This year, MLB switched to Flash. I was hopeful that this would be a good thing, as it would remove the OS dependency (flash works nearly everywhere). The NexDef client may not work in Linux but the game would still be viewable. The commercials during the inning breaks are the same ad for MLB.tv Premium (which I already have!) but at least they are silent! 🙂

Initially, I never got the high-def (NexDef) feeds to work; going to fullscreen meant choppy video and audio, regardless of the quality level that I chose. However, the non-NexDef feed worked quite well and didn’t look that bad on my 19″ widescreen television.

I recently built a new computer and (shock surprise!) NexDef works nearly-flawlessly on it, even in fullscreen. There have been exceptions: some nights MLB has problems across the board (all games have issues) and some nights there are problems with individual game feeds (like last night’s YES feed — I had to watch the game on NESN). But on the whole, it has worked pretty well for me on the new machine.

That leads me to believe that MLB’s suggested system requirements is not correct for NexDef fullscreen. I think you need a pretty beefy machine (with a decent video card) to get NexDef to work correctly.

I will say this: when NexDef works, the quality is amazing! It looks much better than SD programs from Comcast and rivals the HD cable signals.

Once major complaint, and this is about Flash and not MLB: if you watch a flash video fullscreen, clicking on the desktop (I have triple-monitors now) causes Flash to lose the fullscreen. There is a fix for it, though, so I’m quite happy now!

At least, I will be when they get the YES feed fixed! 🙂

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