Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

NBC Dumps Silverlight for NFL Streaming? Hardly

Today, Valleywag tried to string two separate events and some made-up facts together to spin the yarn that NBC was not happy with the performance of Silverlight on, and dumped the technology for Flash for their new NFL streaming site. At first blush, the reasoning sees logical… but take more than 2 seconds to think about it, and the specious reasoning just doesn’t add up.

  1. NBC *NEVER* said that using Silverlight for the Olympics meant they were dumping Flash altogether.’s video player still heavily uses Flash, and will probably continue to do so for a while.
  2. Nowhere in the article was a quote, directly attributable to NBC or otherwise, stating that poor performance on the Olympics site lead to the technological choice to use Flash on this separate project.
  3. The article in context proposes the scenario that three weeks ago, NBC developers analyzed data from the Olympics, didn’t like the data they gathered. So they completely changed course and built the Flash-based NFL site in approx. two weeks. There is no way the NFL site was built in that timeframe, so it is highly unlikely that one had a single thing to do with the other. The decisions were probably made months beforehand, and built using two completely different teams.

Without a direct quote from NBC developers explaining the platform choice, this is nothing but speculation. Too bad the know-it-alls over at Valleywag and Silicon Alley Insider don’t know enough about journalism to be able to differentiate between speculation and fact before they hit the "publish" button.

Posted on Sep 06 2008, 07:37 PM by Robert McLaws
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  • Emil said:

    Well said Rob, well said.

    September 6, 2008 5:44 PM
  • Randy H. said:

    It is highly likely that Adobe invested in the development of the site to secure the NFL's use of Flash. It happens all the time.

    September 6, 2008 6:14 PM
  • Matt said:

    Agreed.  A company that size probably has far more developers already proficient with Flash.  And like you say, it's not like they started building the site two weeks ago.  

    September 6, 2008 6:14 PM
  • Robert, I don't disagree with you as you might be right. Curious though: where are your quotes from NBC and facts to refute? Ironically, I see much speculation in your post and title. ;)

    September 6, 2008 6:24 PM
  • Flash Fan said:

    The NFL website was developed over a year ago, so naturally they chose Flash. There was no need for investment from Adobe because Flash was (and still is) the #1 source for displaying interactive / online video.

    At the time, Silverlight was in its infancy and not ready for primetime. NFL made a substantial investment in preparing thousands of hours of video from their archives for Flash. So there's no benefit for the NFL to abandon Flash for Silverlight, just because SL finally works.

    The Valleywag article was bollocks. Total clueless linkbait.

    September 6, 2008 6:54 PM
  • Flash is more widely used -- it is probably simple economics -- Windows will need to get Moonlight working first.

    September 6, 2008 8:15 PM
  • My impression, and I don't remember why I thought this, was that NBC used Silverlight because Microsoft had a <a href=">financial arrangement</a>. Apparently, Microsoft wasn't willing to make the same deal for the NFL or it was rejected for whatever reason. The question remains, did NBC make the right choice? Apparently, a lot of people don't think so.

    September 6, 2008 8:21 PM
  • Nice post Robert!

    Publish is spelled wrong at the end though.

    September 6, 2008 11:29 PM
  • surilamin said:

    The ironic things is that I was try to watch NBC's NFL streaming the other day, and it was horrible in flash.  It certainly was not the same expirience I had watching the olympics.  Frames kept freezing up, quality was not as good, etc...

    September 7, 2008 8:07 AM
  • TechBlog said:

    • Google Says: We'll Get Our Own Data, Thanks - Satellite launches to provide images for Google Earth. Google's logo is plastered on the rocket. • What to Expect from Google in the Next 10 Years and Is Google Turning...

    September 7, 2008 9:57 AM
  • Thanks for catching that Brandon. Maybe I should hit "spell check" before I hit the "publish" button :)

    September 7, 2008 4:59 PM
  • Great analysis, Robert.  The real reason that the site uses Flash is explained here:

    NFL made the technology decision here, not NBC.  

    September 9, 2008 11:17 AM
  • mike said:

    Wow, feel defensive much?  What with all the thousands of press bits that speculate on MSFT every day, it's always fascinating to see which of those thousands people get wound up over.

    September 9, 2008 11:17 PM
  • Cole said:

    The NBC decision for the Olys was their partnership with Microsoft. The NFL has their own development using Flash, and NBC was not allowed a choice. This was all about business, and says nothing about Flash versus Silverlight. The comments about studdering video are equally misleading, as these are caused by bandwidth and server streaming, not the player technology. Fuzzy pixelization has everything to do with encoding, so those comments aren't valid either. Given equal footing, both technologies work fine serving video.

    The Olys had much lower viewing than expected, so their servers were not taxed. The NFL got creamed with traffic and couldn't handle it. Whether you love or hate Microsoft, at least try to understand the technology and the business deals before passing judgment.

    September 24, 2008 5:06 PM