Video Killed the Television Star: First Experience With Live PC Video-on-Demand

You may use this content, but please cite my ideas as (c) 2005, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein.

My Cleveland Indians have won 8 games in a row and I was preparing today to listen to the game on XM satellite radio (I have an XM boombox). I checked mlb.com to see if this non-New York team was catching any headlines there. Seeing that I could get 2 weeks of live baseball free for also getting a trial subscription to Sports Illustrated (please, help me remember to cancel that!), I decided to risk a credit card number to see if the Indians can win 9 in a row today (I was in the old stadium when they won 8 in a row back in 1986 which stretched to 10 before they floated back to earth). I also suspended my satellite TV subscription (and landline telephone) to save a little money. Oh, I live near Atlanta so I need the help catching up on the Indians, although WTAM 1100-AM Cleveland often comes in quite well at night down here)

As I write this, it's 3-2 Indians going into the bottom of the 8th. Why am I posting this to my iTV blog? Well, this experience is my first with an "on the edge of my seat" live broadcast on my PC as well as a video-on-demand experience online.

Here are my observations today:

  • I didn't know what the feed would be, it turns out to be Fox Sports Network (Ohio) with the local cable sports broadcasters

  • The feed includes all the commercials that are airing (I'm a veteran viewer of these cablecasts)

  • The inclusion of commercials is significant because I'm not convinced that this service will continue on a subscription model, and it would be easy enough for mlb.com to insert its own commercials if it saw fit

  • I'm multitasking, checking email and fighting off invaders to my PC (wow, these uninvited guests are getting to be as big or bigger a problem as is spam)

  • I am on an Adelphia broadband service using a Wireless G connection to my PC (this is not Adelphia's high end broadband--I dropped back to the less expensive service because I could see no difference between the two); there have been no hiccups whatsoever during the entire broadcast

  • the audio is perfect to my ears (high fi as far as I can tell, but I can't detect any stereo)

  • the video is running on Windows Media Player 9 (Realplayer was the only other option offered) at a screen size of xxx by xxx

  • fullscreen is available but probably only useful if I were to use the monitor as a TV set at a distance

  • OK, I have to stop with 2 outs in the top of the ninth, no one on....I've turned on XM radio and the broadcast is 10-15 seconds ahead of the PC video buffer. OH! Tears in my eyes as Bob Wickman strikes out 2 in the ninth and the Indians win, 3-2 for 9 in a row!

  • Whew. OK, I do love the Indians radio broadcasts (Tom Hamilton is much more dramatic than the local Fox broadcasters)

  • mlb.com cut off the feed during a commercial break so I won't get to see the obligatory post game interview and that ticks me off, bad experience

  • The remainder of the season would be $49.95 for all games except blackouts (almost certainly to stop competition with national TV broadcasts and ESPN Sunday Night Baseball cablecasts). Baseball is my favorite sport, but it is the Indians I care about and I'm not sure how much it would cost me to resubscribe to MLB on satelite television

  • I'm turning on the Minnesota Twins game because they are ahead of the Indians (and the White Sox are being ridiculous)...I think I like the idea of grabbing a video feed of other games but is this as good or better than a TV subscription?)

  • XM radio is allowing the Indians' post game show (this is a change from earlier in the season, but we Indians fans are everywhere and XM may have heard from a lot of us...maybe I should call them and ask)

So how can I sum up my experience? Well, it's unusual for any sports team to have won 9 in a row and that has very much to do with why I did the trial subscription. The game was a pitcher's battle with few controversial plays, so I could have been out in the yard listening to my XM radio boombox. I was also highly involved in the broadcast, also a very relevant point. So it's the context, stupid. (c) 2005 by Dr. Bruce C. Klopfenstein.


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