IP Is Changing the Future of the Broadcast Control Room

For the vast majority of broadcast engineers, the demands of new systems and future equipment are an ever growing issue. What’s not growing, in most environments, is the physical space within a broadcast control room. As a result, every RU of space is increasing in value like the housing market—because, ultimately, this is all about real estate.

On top of increased content processing and the growth of digital and OTT platforms, the broadcast control room also has a number of fixed and variable costs. For example, how do the costs of power, cooling and rent factor into housing so much equipment? It is also important to consider the cost of each RU in your environment. Some estimates find that each RU of space in a congested broadcast server room is valued at upwards of $3,000. It is important to note that this is not including the cost of equipment, so careful planning can have a long-term financial gain.


Most of us take our dependency on IP-based networks for granted. That statement holds up across personal and professional areas and within just about any vertical market.

Within the broadcast space, we are witnessing a shift in thinking. Companies across the industry are coming together to help take the serial digital interface (SDI) workflow into the IP realm. Work is well underway in defining standards to guide this shift and create a common ground that benefits everyone.

But with all the excitement around IP-based workflows, it is easy to overlook other areas of your control room infrastructure that can greatly benefit from an IP environment. One such area is your keyboard/video/mouse (KVM) architecture

While broadcast control rooms have long benefitted from KVM systems in place, there have been several limiting factors based on the implemented technology. For example, traditional KVM architecture requires a centralized switch that limits the number of computer ports and user ports. If your needs exceed the limit in one area or the other, you’re required to expand to additional switches or re-do your install to accommodate the growth. These traditional systems are also limited by distance—meaning, how far a server and user can be located from the switch.

IP-based KVM systems, on the other hand, allow control rooms to function far more efficiently by removing the limitations of distance and hardware location. Tying together multiple control rooms on different floors of a building, or even in different buildings across a campus location, is entirely possible with an IP KVM system. The number of users and computers is virtually limitless with an IP-based KVM, as the system can scale alongside the network. IP-based KVM is also brand agnostic when it comes to network switches, minimizing the learning curve and implementation time of a new system and equipment.

[2018 NAB Show's IP Showcase to Map Path to IP]

As IP-based KVM continues to grow in popularity, it is now following a trend often seen in the hardware market; smaller footprints and increased efficiency. The traditional KVM approach requires a large amount of space to house a chassis or, in many cases, multiple chassis. The ability to free up this space with an IP-based system is an immediate benefit. We are now seeing the emergence of Zero U, IP-based KVM transmitters to facilitate the value of the rack real estate. As IP-based KVM continues to evolve and shift to a smaller footprint, it also brings lower power consumption requirements and reduced heat dissipation. All of these factors help create a more efficient and economical broadcast control room.


From live broadcast to post production, IP-based, high performance networks are decluttering control rooms and end-user environments, while enabling seamless content control from a single workstation. Utilizing IP for KVM matrixes helps to facilitate new levels of infrastructure cost savings and operational flexibility. Rack space is still limited and the cost of real estate will only rise.

Tim Conway is vice president at Adder Corp.