Microsoft this week announced another high-profile win for its Silverlight Web media technology: CBS Sports will use the technology to provide high-definition (HD) On Demand access to college basketball's March Madness games. Standard definition playback of the games will still utilize the Windows Media-based technologies used in the past.
"This is simply about what the fans have said they want," says CBS Sport's Jason Kint. "Last year, it was foremost about eliminating registration and blackouts, which we did. And this year, it's about improving the video experience itself as much as we can."
The use of Silverlight will certainly achieve that: Silverlight video broadcasts of March Madness On Demand (MMOD) will triple the standard definition video resolution from 550 kbps to 1.5 Mbps. Last year, CBS Sports drew 4.8 million unique viewers and generated over 5 million hours of video for MMOD. The event consists of 63 separate games.
MMOD represents the second major sports-related use of Silverlight: Last summer, NBC Sports utilized the technology for its Web broadcasts of the Summer Olympic games in Beijing. Silverlight competes with existing solutions, such as Adobe Flash, which is one of the most broadly-deployed Web technologies worldwide. Flash is used for such things as MLB.TV, Major League Baseball's online subscription service.