MLB Network Launch Powered by Motorola

The new 24-hour channel solely dedicated to Major League Baseball taps Motorola's digital compression technology to deliver high-definition content for the largest launch in cable history. MLB will use Motorola's modular uplink system and integrated receiver/decoders to meet the challenge of distributing video with a high proportion of high speed action.

Motorola's cell phone division may be striking out in the handset market, but its video delivery services are a hit with Major League Baseball's new MLB cable network. Launched on Jan. 1, the network chose Motorola's modular uplink system and integrated receiver/decoders to distribute its new lineup of sports programming.

The new 24-hour cable network is devoted solely to the big leagues and other baseball programming and is available in approximately 50 million cable and satellite homes, the largest launch in cable history. When the MLB season begins, the network will feature an 8-hour highlights show with live "look-ins" from robotic cameras in all big league ballparks. The network will also broadcast 26 regular season games in addition to 16 games from the World Baseball Classic in March.

It all adds up to a lot of video that must be compressed and streamed to the network's Secaucus, N.J., studios and then on to satellite and cable networks throughout the country. With Motorola, which has worked with other sports leagues including the NFL and the NBA, as its technology partner, MLB will be able to implement an end-to-end system that is customized to meet the exacting demands for distributing video with a high proportion of high-speed action.

To meet those demands, Motorola is providing top-of-the-line high-definition and standard-definition MPEG-2 encoders as part of a system that will compress, multiplex, encrypt, modulate and receive satellite-delivered programming. With an extensive portfolio of Motorola equipment, MLB Network was able to mix and match equipment to configure the most effective solution for current needs with an eye toward future expansion flexibility.

"With many complex deployments in the field, Motorola has an excellent reputation in the sports programmer space," Mark Haden, vice president of engineering and IT at MLB Network, said in a statement. "We've seen how Motorola's solutions can manage multiple virtual networks and that gives us a comfort factor for long-term growth and stability."

Haden added that Motorola's extensive experience with sports networks assured MLB that "both our quality targets and aggressive time frame to launch could be accommodated."

The network will deploy a modular uplink system including SE-3000HD encoders and SE-2000 SD encoders to distribute its programming by satellite. The systems combine Motorola's conditional access system for content protection and the company's Broadcast Network Control System to manage the content sent to MLB Network affiliates.

The program content will be received by Motorola's DSR-4410 commercial satellite receivers. Based on the DigiCipher II platform, the integrated receiver/decoders are designed to deliver video and audio performance easily and cost-effectively while under the complete control of the MLB Network uplink system.

"Motorola has a great deal of experience in providing programmers with content distribution solutions where high picture quality and overall system availability are key factors," said Bob Wilson, general manager for Motorola's Networked Video Solutions and Broadband Home Solutions business. "We've also continued to advance our video delivery portfolio, which has the depth to meet a wide variety of distribution requirements with very efficient distribution."