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MLB Advanced Media to power new HBO service

MLB Advanced MediaMLB Advanced Media will power HBO’s new online streaming service — a move that caused some high drama in Hollywood circles.

The drama really wasn’t related at all to MLB Advanced Media; instead, it was due to the decision by HBO executives to drop technology developed in-house for years and and years, preferring instead to go with MLB Advanced Media. HBO has planned a standalone streaming service for years now that would not require a cable or satellite subscription based on the existing HBO GO service, but the firm has not been able to develop the technology needed to provide such a service, including a back-end billing subscription system.  From Fortune:

Moving HBO’s new streaming service to an external platform is a blow to Otto Berkes, the chief technology officer of HBO. Since becoming HBO’s CTO in 2012, Berkes has brought in a number of his ex-colleagues from Microsoft and set up a large office in Seattle with 55 engineers, laying off a number of longtime employees in New York. The Seattle office, which is rumored to cost HBO as much as $100 million per year, has been the source of internal squabbling at the company. Insiders accused Berkes of building “a Napoleonic empire” within HBO….

Earlier this year, HBO Go suffered several embarrassing outages during episodes of Game of Thrones and True Detective. According to sources, Berkes had known about a “memory leak” for nine months but decided it was a “non-issue.” That leak eventually led to the HBO Go outages. Internally, some accused Berkes of using the outages as a way to ask for more money to invest in his Seattle engineering team. He got the investment, but HBO executives have not been pleased with what he’s delivered. Berkes delayed product launches and was unable to deliver on upgrades. “If you look at what [HBO Go] is today versus two years ago, he hasn’t really done anything,” one source said.

For MLB Advanced Media, this is huge: the service was already a major video provider between its own game broadcasts and white-label streaming services for third-party providers. For Berkes, it’s the end of the HBO road: he resigned.

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