Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 20 No. 46
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch. signs deal with Microsoft has signed a deal with Microsoft to use the software giant’s Silverlight video player for March Madness on Demand, becoming the latest entity to embrace the software. is aiming to improve the video quality of MMOD after last year’s record turnout of 4.8 million unique users for the free offering. Silverlight will nearly triple the peak video resolution available, to 1.5 megabits per second from 550 kilobits per second last year.

Users will have the option for a higher-
quality presentation via Silverlight
this year. had been using Microsoft’s Windows Media Player for its MMOD coverage and will continue to use that in a standard-level offering that will be available along with the higher-quality, Silverlight-powered experience.

“This is simply about our running down the checklist and trying to address each thing the fans have said they want,” said Jason Kint, senior vice president and general manager. “Last year, it was foremost about eliminating registration and blackouts, which we did. And this year, it’s about improving the video experience itself as much as we can.”

Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed, but Microsoft will be making what Kint called a significant advertising spend for MMOD. Microsoft will not receive corporate branding on the video player.

The MMOD alignment provides another lift for Silverlight, which is fighting for industry share against the more dominant online video player Adobe Flash. Microsoft received a sizable boost last summer when NBC used Silverlight for its massive batch of Olympics content from Beijing. Silverlight also was selected to handle online streaming of President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

“As we’ve continued our evolution for Silverlight, we’re making a bigger focus on being an important tool for live broadcasters, and this is a very good fit for CBS and for us,” said Eric Schmidt, Microsoft director of media and advertising evangelism.

Other elements that were introduced last year for MMOD, such as a high-profile partnership with Facebook and one-click access to the tournament from dozens of rival sports sites, will return for 2009.