What is Playout in Broadcasting?

In broadcasting, channel playout involves all the software, equipment, and processes used to send content to an audience via network distribution channels. In other words, the playout system “plays” the source media and sends it “out” to an external system.

A playout system can be as simple as a DVD player or as complex as a managed channel origination center. Regardless, playout is generally the last chance to make content decisions before video distribution.

Playout is often referred to as master control. While there are both linear and nonlinear playout solutions, we’re going to focus on linear playout and how it works for this article. We’ll also discuss various aspects of broadcast playout solutions and how your media company can move forward with them.

What Is Linear Playout Broadcasting?

Think of linear playout as a regularly scheduled television channel. Everything happens sequentially on a straight line of events. Usually, the broadcast feed is meticulously timed out and planned ahead of time with the integration of a traffic and billing system.

The result is a viewing experience that’s optimized for the audience at specified times of the day. Executing linear playouts is time-consuming and labor-intensive.

What Is a Playout Solution?

Every type of media requires a playout solution. This can take the form of an on-premise or a cloud-based solution, both of which work similarly. This is where you’ll verify, validate, trim, store, manage, and schedule your assets for delivery to viewers.

The playout solution then automates linear content for viewer consumption. In the form of video, audio, graphics, and associated metadata, content is inputed to the playout system and then output, which creates the broadcast. Content in the form of video, audio, graphics, and associated metadata, are input to the playout system then output. Additionally, a linear playout solution also integrates with the traffic and billing system.

Benefits of Central Control and Nimbus Playout Solutions

Whether cloud-based or on-premise, broadcast playout solutions like Central Control and Nimbus can play live and pre-recorded audio, video, graphics, and captions. By choosing Central Control or Nimbus you get:

  • Faster ingest routines: Make large-scale ingesting easy with QC functionality. It’s even possible to automatically ingest from a wide array of sources, including FTP, AWS S3, and Wasabi.
  • Efficient scheduled playlists: Make your schedule less stressful with the freedom to establish a playlist weeks before broadcast. The flexibility of importing from both sources and formats like BXF, XML, and CSV gives you the ability to work the way you want while still making it easy to make last-minute alterations.
  • Powerful media asset management: Stop wasting time trying to sift and sort through endless files of media. With Nimbus and Central Control’s search and filtering tools, it’s easy to find and organize what you need when you need it.
  • Stable playout solutions: Add redundancy and disaster recovery channels to help ensure your playout is stable even when faced with problems like unforeseen network and equipment issues.

Who Is a Master Control Operator?

A master control operator is responsible for monitoring the accuracy and quality of the on-air product. Sometimes this person’s called the “playout operator.”

The master control operator helps with a lot of the preparation behind a broadcast. A few of their responsibilities include preparing, validating, and verifying incoming content and managing the traffic list.

For some companies, a master control operator is also responsible for making rough cuts and edits, recording and editing quick turnaround pieces, digitizing live events, assembling segments in correct sequences for playout, and managing edited video content. Master control operators are also responsible for ensuring all content meets a certain quality standard and complies with government regulations when applicable.

Because master control operators are the primary operator of playout solutions, they are responsible for resolving any technical issues that come up in their normal operations. It’s expected that they can solve both software and hardware issues to ensure normal operations.

What Is IP Playout?

Playouts were limited to terrestrial broadcasts in the past, but there has been a shift to IP delivery. Call-letter TV stations are starting to use IP playout solutions to deliver their linear playout. IP playout is when content is delivered through internet protocol. Using IP playout can simplify your operations and get your product out faster. It also allows you to easily scale and expand your brand to different channels and markets.

IP playout works in two ways: internet protocol television (IPTV) and connected TV (CTV) solutions.


IPTV delivers media through a managed network, making it more secure than streaming content over the public internet. The audio or video plays from a single source, which can be shared across multiple devices within the network.


CTV delivers audio and video content as individual products. Each user has to establish their own connection to the server. This is why services like Netflix impose restrictions on how many people can stream at the same time.

How Does This Relate to Bitcentral Technology?

Bitcentral Technology offers cloud-based and on-premise playout solutions for media companies and production crews. We’ve been doing this for over 20 years, and we know what playout in broadcasting is all about.

We help organizations create, manage, and distribute their stories more efficiently. Bitcentral provides a wide range of playout solutions that maximize productivity, increase accuracy, and fit within your budget. Learn more about Bitcentral Broadcast Playout Software.