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Planning Long Cable Runs for Esports Tournament Broadcasts - Copper or Fiber?

It's easy to figure out how many consoles you'll need for your competitors. But it can be far more complex figuring out how to cable everything up. Here's some tips to simplify your cable runs.

Photo Credit: Cable Flexer

We're going to make a few assumptions for the sake of this blog:

  1. 12 console systems (Nintendo Switch) with monitors for each player

  2. Hardware switcher with at least 12 SDI inputs

  3. A long cable run is needed (25ft or longer between competitors and switcher)


How will the players see their own gameplay?

The Nintendo Switch has an HDMI output that can be plugged directly into a monitor for the player.


If you're running an HDMI-only switcher setup:

To get that signal out to a switcher, you'll first need an HDMI splitter with 2 outputs - one for the competitor's monitor, and the other to send to the switcher.


If you're running an SDI switcher setup:

Use Blackmagic Design BiDirectional 3G converters at each Switch station using the following setup:

Photo Credit: Blackmagic Design & PlayEX

Get the console video signals to your switcher

If you're using short cable runs (less than 25ft, you might be able to run 12, GOOD QUALITY HDMI cables from your HDMI splitters directly to your switcher. This can be a pain, however, as that's a large bundle of cables you need to run together. Good quality HDMI cables can be quite thick and stiff, making it difficult to run multiple together. Converting to SDI will run you into the same problem.


There is a solution, however - fiber optic cable. Fiber can carry large amounts of data over a single cable, and compared to SDI copper cable, is actually cheaper per foot (not including converters). It is easy to convert an SDI to fiber - and you can even run many SDI signals over a single fiber cable. To start, you'll need to convert your SDI signal to fiber and you can do this easily with the Blackmagic Design SDI to Optical Fiber Mini Converter. In the example we've started, you'll connect the fiber converter in series with the BiDirectional converter as follows:


Photo Credit: Blackmagic Design & PlayEX

To use the optical fiber converter, you'll need a 3G LC Fiber SFP module like this one from FS.com

This module accepts an LC fiber cable.



At this point, you can run fiber cables to your switcher directly, which will be a lot easier to deal with than bulky HDMI or SDI cables. Not to mention that fiber cables can run several miles before losing signal clarity, whereas HDMI is limited to about 8 meters and SDI, 100m. However, you can actually use a special breakout fiber cable to combine all 12 fiber cables into a single cable that can run to your switcher.



Photo Credit: SanSpot

This breakout cable from SanSpot (https://www.sanspot.com/1m-mtp-lc-om3-24-fiber-mtp-mtlc-fm324nxr01) combines all 12 fiber cables into a single fiber cable with an MTP connector. (note, this is technically a 24-fiber cable because each cable has 2 fiber strands, but it has 12 pairs which is what we need)





Photo Credit: fs.com

You can then run an MTP trunk cable to your switcher area where you use another MTP breakout cable and fiber converters to do the inverse. While this is not a budget-friendly option, it is the simplest cabling possible - allowing you to run 12 video signals hundreds of meters over a single cable.


For reference:

  • 150ft MTP cable: ~$375 USD

  • 12x 150ft SDI cable: ~$1020 USD






A full setup diagram could resemble this:


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