Are You Ready for Streaming Football?

NFL Opening Kickoff 2009 
Despite speculation that it was being replaced, Microsoft’s Silverlight technology is powering tonight’s 2009 NFL Season Opener on NBC Sports website.  There’s the value of pre-season for you.

Just a reminder that Thursday night is the kickoff of the NFL Sunday Night Football experience powered by Silverlight and Smooth Streaming on NBCSports.com and NFL.com. With a 720p HD broadcast feed, four additional feeds with switching, picture-in-picture, slo-mo, and pause functionality that put you in control of your viewing experience—you won’t want to miss it.

See our previous blog post for more information.

The Silverlight Blog – Home

This is just one of the examples of the possibilities that the digital transition has enabled: live, HD streaming of a major event.  The game will be captured digitally by NBC Sports and encoded separately from the online stream into 1080i MPEG-2 for its OTA broadcast.

A quick trip to NFL.com still had its live link pointing to April’s draft, but viewing their license agreement for streaming services gave some information:

  • Game Rewind: access to a video archive of every NFL regular season and post-season game beginning with the 2008 season
  • Red Zone: access to a live stream of the Red Zone channel from NFL Network, which provides live "look-ins" to Sunday afternoon NFL regular season games

Again, thanks to being in the digital age, archiving all those games for the Rewind option is a snap.  So is Red Zone.

The one advantage that tonight’s webcast has over its OTA simulcast, is the additional, web only camera feeds.  This has been a feature long rumored since HDTV was first being discussed for sports.  Stadiums may have on the order of six camera teams to covering all the action.  Now the fans can get different angles on the action live and not merely on replays chosen by the production crew.

And you will see if the speculation was well deserved.  The claim is that Silverlight and IIS Smooth Streaming perform better and that is why NBC is sticking with the technology.  The NFL, for archival footage, is sticking with the incumbent.  In the meantime, enjoy the Black Eyed Peas getting you psyched up for the game, tune in the kick off show, and happy viewing.

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