1:0 for KVM – with great passion for sports and cutting-edge technology

Sky Sport HQ

Intro
It's Saturday night, almost 9 p.m.   Kick-off is in a few minutes, I'm slightly nervous. After all, my team is about to win the Champions League final – at least that’s what I hope for. The sports commentator and their celebrity guests are already sitting in the Sky studio discussing the lineups and tactics of both teams. Suddenly my roommate who really doesn't care about soccer bursts into the living room and says: “What a neat studio! I wonder how they manage all these broadcasts. There must be a lot of technology working in the background!" In fact, I've never really thought about this before, because after all, I mostly just focus on the game. But somehow the question sticks with me. So I start researching while my team is already warming up on the pitch.
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That’s when I learn that Sky Germany's new broadcasting and production centre Sky Sport HQ in Unterföhring near Munich is one of the most modern sports broadcasting centres in Europe. Here, they produce numerous live broadcasts of the 1st and 2nd Bundesliga, DFB Cup, Euro League and Champions League and also manage the company’s social media channels. With its extraordinary concept, the Sky Sport HQ sports production and broadcasting center is considered the flagship of Sky Germany.

About Sky Deutschland

With around 5 million customers, Sky Deutschland GmbH is one of Germany’s largest entertainment companies and most popular pay TV providers. Its programming primarily includes live sports events, feature films, children's shows and documentaries. Especially the live sports broadcasts about football, Formula 1, tennis or golf draw many viewers in.
To the sky website

A tremendous performance

Sky Sport HQ covers a total area of 4,600 square meters; 1,700 are used by the four high-tech live studios. The broadcasting center comprises a total of 41 premises, and around 50 kilometers of cable to connect all the technology.
According to Sky Sport HQ, the company is able produce and broadcast up to 12 programmes in parallel on one weekend. Sky Deutschland operates five sports channels broadcasting 24/7. On top of this, ten additional channels can be added to broadcast up to fourteen different sports events on one weekend. However, this tremendous output requires an enormous amount of technology, equipment and, of course, many employees.
One can only imagine the sheer volume of work behind this project. To build and equip the new broadcasting center, the TV station invested a sum in the double-digit millions. Responsible for the technological planning and subsequent system integration was Qvest Media.
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The heart of the live studio

Qvest Media took over the audio-visual equipment of the two large live studios, the connected control rooms, the many editing rooms, ten dedicated voice-over booths and 16 additional voice-over seats. In addition, Sky Cube HQ has eight production control rooms and an Occasional Channel Playout Room with a connected Audio Control Room as well as two TX Control Rooms for controlling the four 24/7 main channels and ten Occasional Channels. An impressive 2.5 m high and 35 meters wide LED wall forms the heart of the main studio. On this screen, presenters can display and analyse game scenes, graphics and statistics. Here, best-of-breed technologies support Europe’s largest and most modern broadcast infrastructure for live sports broadcasts.
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The backbone of the IT

To ensure that workflows are running smoothly around the clock, the equipment always has to be available while also being absolutely fail-safe. Here, G&D’s KVM systems serve as the backbone of the IT. In order to optimally implement the high demands on security, facilitate workflows and improve collaboration of the individual production teams for live reports, the integrator developed a concept to create a fully redundant structure of the production and operating computers which also included removing them from studios, control rooms and post-production. For this project, two completely mirrored, redundant matrix switch clusters, each consisting of a ControlCenter-Digital 288 were placed in the central equipment room. If - in the event of a fault - switching via one of the two matrices is not possible, the second matrix is used automatically. Thanks to full redundancy, the production teams can perform their tasks at all times.

Plenty of technology to support creativity

The server room houses around 100 powerful computers. All systems such as ingest servers, video servers, studio automation servers, servers and clients for graphics systems, teleprompters, servers for camera robotics, general configuration servers/clients and servers for broadcast automation can be accessed using KVM technology. In order to facilitate the creative work in Sky's broadcasting and production centre and to make it as efficient as possible, all video and program control rooms as well as ingest, playout, the graphics department and several studios are now almost computer-free.
And although most of the equipment has been stored centrally, there was still a need in some departments for computers to be available locally and, more importantly, for multiple computers to be operated by the same producer. The first issue has been solved with installing KVM switches, e.g. DP-MUX2, at each of these workstations. Producers, in turn, now use TradeSwitches to operate several computers with only one set of keyboard and mouse, without having to provide keyboard and mouse for each machine separately.

The result of the demanding IT installation and several months of technical preparations is rather impressive: About 100 CPUs and 85 CONs and countless cables were connected to both mirrored matrix switches.
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KVM computer module
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redundant matrix system
85
KVM console module
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Seamless integration into broadcast equipment

The KVM matrix ControlCenter-Digital has been integrated into LAWO's VSM broadcast control and monitoring system to ensure uniform control and to simplify multi-level, complex processes. Thanks to G&D's IP-Control-API, the VSM controller communicates with the KVM matrix and can execute any switching commands such as simultaneous switching of different programme requirements or exchanging setups between several control rooms.
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Challenge accepted and mastered

With their own production and broadcasting centre, Sky Germany has gained maximum flexibility and above all even more freedom for future in-house productions. Individual workflows have been improved, making everyday production easier for everyone involved.
The installed equipment   has met our expectations and is easy to use.
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Michael Büttner
responsible for IT/KVM at Qvest Media
The future of Sky surely remains exciting. Europe's largest pay-tv provider continues to grow and is committed to offering its customers the best entertainment. As I delve deeper and deeper into researching Sky Sport HQ's technical equipment, I slowly become aware of the immense technical effort and technological high-tech behind all of Sky's productions. The possibilities seem gigantic, I think to myself as I look back at the TV. Dang! Only now do I realize that, engrossed in my research, I seem to have missed the 1:0 for my team.
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