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NBA Elevates Web Game with Silverlight - Broadcasting & Cable

NBA Elevates Web Game with Silverlight

Microsoft Software Plug-In to Deliver New Video, Graphics Capabilities
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The National Basketball Association is upgrading its broadband efforts with Silverlight, Microsoft’s cross-browser, cross-platform software plug-in that is designed to bring new video and graphics capabilities to the Web.

The NBA will use Microsoft Silverlight to enhance the online-video experience on all of its broadband properties, including NBA.com, WNBA.com and NBADevelopmentLeague.com.

According to NBA vice president of interactive Steve Grimes, Silverlight will allow the NBA to deliver higher-quality video highlights on its Web site -- an ongoing challenge with fast-moving basketball action -- without having to eliminate applications it is already running with Adobe’s versatile Flash software.

Silverlight -- which was launched earlier this year and is already being used by programmers such as CBS -- will also allow the NBA to put video “in many more places around the site,” Grimes said, adding, “It will give us more flexibility around video.”

However, the first Silverlight application to launch on NBA.com is actually using still images, not full-motion video. NBA.com used the new Microsoft software to create a full-screen photo gallery of game action, leveraging the high-quality photography that is already being shot at every game.

“Frankly, it’s surprisingly good,” Grimes said. “The photos look so much more compelling [full-screen] than simply cropped on a Web page.”

NBA.com plans to launch a new video player based on Silverlight after the holiday season, Grimes said. It may also experiment with Silverlight’s enhanced capabilities to create new video- and-graphic-based advertising on the Web, seeking to capitalize on the increased popularity of NBA.com.

During November, the first month of the 2007-08 NBA season, NBA.com set the all-time monthly record for video streams with more than 38 million, an increase of 95% compared with the same month last season. The Web site’s previous all-time monthly record of 30 million video streams was established in February 2007.

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