Major League Baseball will start streaming Spring Training games on the Web Wednesday, and its new hi-def Web TV service is scheduled to launch next month. The biggest changes: Better quality streaming, a new DVR feature, etc.
But MLB has also made a bunch of behind-the-scenes changes to the service to make it more reliable — to avoid downtime like it experienced at the beginning of last season. MLB Advanced Media, the league’s Internet arm, briefed us on some of the improvements.
- The ability to turn off third-party services, like Yahoo’s (YHOO) video ad engine, if they’re causing problems.
- Back-up video streaming capabilities via Limelight Networks (LLNW) and potentially Level 3 (LVLT), in addition to their main content delivery network, Akamai Technologies (AKAM). (MLB also uses Limelight for its iPhone app video.)
- Better control over (and more visibility into) what its servers are actually doing, via a Sun (JAVA) virtualization technology called Sun Zones.
- A more concrete backup plan to help their IT team decide what to do next if things go wrong.
Of course, every Web service is capable of crashing, and nothing is bulletproof. But if the changes help make MLB.TV more reliable, that should help keep the league’s roughly half-million Internet TV subscribers happy.