Pro Baseball Web Video Woes Continue

Major League Baseball's MLB.TV online broadcasting service encountered serious technical difficulties for the second straight day on Tuesday, as affected paying subscribers fumed about missing games.

At around 7 p.m. Eastern Time, minutes prior to the start of Tuesday's first games, MLB disabled its Mosaic media player, the application that gives premium-level MLB.TV subscribers the advanced viewing features they pay for.

Mosaic remained unavailable for about three hours, but even after it became operational again, an undetermined number of subscribers still were unable to watch games due to technical problems affecting MLB.TV's log-in process.

MLB on Wednesday didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about the outstanding technical issues affecting MLB.TV, whose premium-level subscription costs either $19.95 per month or $119.95 per year. A lower-level subscription tier costs $14.95 per month or $89.95 per year.

The Mosaic and log-in problems carried over from Monday, which was the league's opening day, a widely awaited day for baseball fans.

Tom Prendergast, an e-commerce product manager in Canton, Massachusetts, in his second season as a premium-level subscriber, has given up on MLB.TV after the technical problems prevented him from watching games again on Tuesday.

"I am very upset now and plan to call and cancel my service if I can ever get through," he said via e-mail, alluding to the long wait times he has experienced in the past two days when calling MLB.TV's customer support line.

His anger and frustration are echoed by many other MLB.TV subscribers who are sounding off in an official MLB customer support forum and official Mosaic blog.

Baseball Responds

A common comment among those posting messages in these sites is why an organization with MLB's resources can't get its MLB.TV service ready in time for the start of the season. Others are planning to cancel their subscriptions, while some are voicing intentions to file formal complaints against MLB with consumer protection agencies and even possibly take legal action.

Based on the latest information posted by MLB representatives on the official Mosaic blog and on the customer support forum, it seems that Mosaic should be working correctly now. They're also pledging that the log-in problems will be fixed prior to Wednesday's first game, which is scheduled to start at 1:05 p.m. ET.

In an interview Tuesday, Robert Bowman, president and CEO of Major League Baseball Advanced Media, MLB's interactive media and Internet company, acknowledged that MLB.TV has had technical glitches at the start of prior seasons.

But he said that the MLB.TV team does its best to have the system ready under difficult circumstances. "It's a complicated process. We can't get into the ballparks and test things out until we actually have games in the ballparks, so we have a one-day spring training" for testing everything end to end, he said.

One thing is clear: The technical disruptions have marred what was supposed to be MLB.TV's most significant roll-out of new services and enhancements, trumpeted by the league on its Web site and through a series of recent press releases.

For example, in addition to upgrading Mosaic using Microsoft's Silverlight rich Internet application technology, MLB.TV is debuting this year enhanced premium-level video streaming at a rate of 1.2M bps (bits per second), more than double its previous rate, and in a 16x9 widescreen format.

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