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PitchBlue FAQ V7

This FAQ addresses the Managed Linear syndication delivery platform used by CBS, GDMX and WarnerBros.

BTorkian avatar
Written by BTorkian
Updated over a week ago

1. What is the MagnuBox®?

The MagnuBox® is designed as a broadcast appliance rather than a computer server. The primary design goals are Automation, Security and Interoperability with traditional broadcast systems.

2. How does PitchBlue handle Live shows?

Syndistro has made arrangements for those stations broadcasting live content from the system to use a new generation server capable of the livecontent. A station may also use a Tandberg RX1290 IRD.

3. Which compression system does PitchBlue use?

West–GDMX/WB: Tandberg: EN8090 (HDencoder), EN8030 (SDencoder), MX8400.

East–CBS: Imagine (Harris): NetVx (HDencoder, multiplexer)

4. Are PitchBlue transmissions encrypted?

Within the continental US, the signal is not encrypted.

5. Is the signal proprietary?

PitchBlue is an open architecture system by design. The MagnuBox® receives a DVB S2 signal and by recording the transport stream, creates files. An off-the-shelf IRD may be used to receive the same feeds.

6. How does the MagnuBox® receive programming?

Programming and recording schedules are delivered to the station MagnuBox® via satellite (Galaxy 16 for WB/GDMX uplink, Galaxy 19 for CBS uplink). Secure Internet connections are used for MagnuBox® health monitoring, management, redundant schedule delivery and optional error correction.

7. How many feeds will be on the transponder?

GDMX feeds 4 in HD and 2 in SD, CBS feeds 4 in HD transmitted on G16 and G19 respectively.

8. Why is it important to connect the MagnuBox® to the Internet?

The Operational Support Center closely monitors the health of the MagnuBox®, which is reported over this channel. Operationally, the distributor can monitor the status (success or failure) of MagnuBox® recordings immediately after transmissions. With this information the OSC and distributors can assist station programming and engineering personnel quickly and efficiently.

9. How much Internet bandwidth is consumed by the backchannel?

The backchannel requires less than 256kb/s to the Internet for health/status communication.

10. Is the MagnuBox® secure? (Firewall, Login etc.)

The MagnuBox® is designed as an appliance with a read-only operating system and all unused ports are blocked by default. The only Internet traffic allowed is outbound http directly to the transmission site. Network configuration is made via a built-in LCD interface. The system requires no access points for keyboards and/or VGA monitors, nor does it run any Java applications or communicate with any binary format.

11. Do I have to add another dish/rebuild my downlink?

Existing downlink hardware may need review to ensure noise and frequency specifications are sufficient for the new modulation. We recommend a minimum fixed 3.7 meter dish with digital LNB and TI filter. More information can be found at

12. What is the video/audio format/bitrate?

Programming is delivered as MPEG-4 in HD 1080i and/or SD. Bitrates will vary slightly between the two uplinks GDMX and CBS.

HD~15Mb/s average

SD~6Mb/s average

SD contains up to 2 pairs of audio for stereo and SAP

HD contains a 3rd pair carrying Dolby E5.1+ 2x1

13. Does the MagnuBox® have an internal transcoder?

The MagnuBox® includes transcoding capability to create SD MPEG2 files from the native MPEG4 formats.

14. Are Automation Systems, Video Servers and Transcoders compatible with this system?

The Operational Support Center has worked with all major vendors to assure compatibility. No fees are required by PitchBlue to interface with the MagnuBox®.

15. How do I manage the storage and control the records in the MagnuBox®?

The capacity provided by current generation SATA drives frees the station from having to juggle disk space on theMagnuBox®. The MagnuBox® will only record feeds to which the station is subscribed.

The schedule is automatically created and updated by the distributor and shows are deleted automatically once the licensed air date has passed. Until then the shows are available for download as many times as the station requires. However,we recommend they be downloaded as soon as received.

16. What is required to install the hardware?

The MagnuBox® is pre-configured for plug and play installation, requiring only the entry of a station-assigned IP address and connections of L-band, power, video and network.

17. What are the MagnuBox® server physical requirements and connections?





460 watts Redund. PSU

300 watts

300 watts






3 RU

1 RU

1 RU

Dub HD-SDI output




Live playout HD-SDI




Input ref




IRD inputs F





Admin network




Media Port





3 TB Raid 5

3 TB Raid 1

3 TB Raid 1





18. What is plan for Support, Spares and Repair?

Support is provided by the Operational Support Center, OSC 24/7 by phone +1-866-437-BLUE (866-437-2583) or you may open a ticket to software/hardware technical staff at Software repair/support may be performed remotely thru IP connection. Replacemen tsystems are shipped overnight from West coast pre-populated with content specific to the station.

19. What training is required and provided?

MagnuBox® setup is simpler than an IRD. Operating Manual and Training materials are available at:

20. What are the provisions for software enhancements and upgrades?

Software is fully upgradable via satellite. Enhancements are scheduled multiple times throughout the year.

21. What about station Hubs and Spokes?

Hub/Spoke relationships are tracked by the OSC.

22. How does the MagnuBox® tell me it needs attention (support)?

Front panel alarms on the box and notifications via pop-up messages to users of the web client. The OSC has an extensive monitoring system and will often discover problems before they affect the server and might contact the station for preventive maintenance.

23. Is there an easy way to determine which provider distributes which show?

Yes, go to, click on programming and the show. The site is searchable.

24. Who should I contact in case a show is not received via PitchBlue?

If your station did not receive its program material via PitchBlue, please contact your GDMX, Warner Bros. or CBS/CWD representative or PitchBlue Support at 1-866-437-BLUE. 1-866-437-2583

25. How do I know my show has arrived?

The transmission schedule and status are viewable from a desktop web browser. Log into the web browser using the IP address provided by station IT department.

26. How many browsers can connect to the MagnuBox® at the same time?

MagnuBox® can support hundreds; assumed usage at a station is dozens.

27. Where do I get my Format Sheets?

Format Sheets can be retrieved at the desktop via web browser and from the MagnuBox® via FTP.

28. How do I play video out or copy a file out?

The MagnuBox® supports automation-industry standard Video Disk Control Protocol (VDCP) for SD/HDSDI playout. Files may be downloaded from the MagnuBox®using FTP through the local Ethernet connection.

29. When can I expect to see the shows sent via PitchBlue in my server?

The distribution schedule for each show is available in the show’s Season Packet.

30. How will our station be notified if a re-feed is scheduled?

Re-feed or delayed pitch information is sent via e-mail. This information is also posted on the main page of the Partner website under the NEWS section. The information may also be sent via Magnubox messaging, viewable on the web browser.

31. I take 3 of your shows that feed at the same time, does that require 3 boxes?

The MagnuBox® can record multiple programs in parallel, i.e. all possible feeds on several transponders can be recorded concurrently. In some cases the MagnuBox® may simultaneously record 8-10 programs in parallel.

32. Can I use the MagnuBox® as my Air Server?

As with any delivery system, best practice is to copy/dub programming to station systems as it arrives. The MagnuBox® is not designed to replace a broadcast video server.

33. My MagnuBox® died/lost signal for x period of time. How long will it take to fill back up? Have I lost the content sent yesterday that I need for playout 2 days from now?

This is addressed in the same way as with other systems via tapes, or refeeds. As with any delivery system, best practice is to copy/dub programming to station systems when it arrives. In case of a hardware failure, a replacement MagnuBox® may be shipped overnight pre-populated.

34. Can the MagnuBox® insert local spots or programming?

The MagnuBox® is not designed to record or playback locally generated content.

35. Can I modify the metadata?

The metadata is XML format and can be parsed and modified after export from the MagnuBox®. All files resident on the MagnuBox® are read-only.

36. Can I record other distributors’ programming?

The MagnuBox® will only record content delivered from the PitchBlue distribution network.

37. I would like to have a spare MagnuBox®. Can I purchase one and if so, what is the cost?

They are available direct from the manufacturer, Vigor Systems. You can reach them via their website:, or via phone at +1 866-748-4467 Ext. 1.

38. Can I add external storage or a SAN to the MagnuBox®?

In order to maintain system integrity, reliability and security, the connection of external storage devices is not supported.

39. Is content with 5.1 audio delivered via PitchBlue?

5.1 audio is currently delivered via Dolby E. ACC Audio is on the PitchBlue roadmap for 2015.

40. What do the various PitchBlue Recording Statuses mean?

Definitions of all record statuses are available at under the heading Feed Status Code Descriptions 3.0(Errors)

41. What is Javelin?

Javelin is separate from PitchBlue and often shares the MagnuBox® at stations to deliver commercials and promos. You may reach the Javelin Service by calling 855-797-9276 or at

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