How the NASDAQ MarketSite Works

Tennis star Roger Federer gives an interview at the NASDAQ MarketSite on Aug. 25, 2005.
Tennis star Roger Federer gives an interview at the NASDAQ MarketSite on Aug. 25, 2005.
Stephen Chernin/

If you ever watch the financial news, you've seen reporters talking about NASDAQ stocks. They are standing in front of a big wall of information showing stock quotes and market trends, the latest details of the day's electronic trading. Text on the screen below the reporter might say, "Live from the NASDAQ stock exchange."

These reporters are all working out of a facility in New York City called the NASDAQ MarketSite broadcast studio, located in the southeast corner of Times Square. The facility is pretty complex: At any given time, it can host dozens of reporters simultaneously and send direct feeds out to all of their separate news organizations. In this article, we'll go behind the scenes to learn about the technology that makes such a sophisticated studio possible.

The Big Picture

Imagine a local TV station that broadcasts the local news. The station has a newsroom and a studio where the news anchors read the news. The output of this studio goes to two places. First, to a local broadcast antenna; second, to the local cable company. Inside the newsroom, there are people operating teleprompters, cameras, lights, audio equipment and so on. It might take 20 employees to run the show.

At the NASDAQ MarketSite broadcast studio, they do something much different: There are dozens of independent reporters, each working for affiliated news organizations. The reporters may stand on stage and do reports 10 times during a single market session. Behind each reporter, a screen is filled with stock quotes, figures and statistics that are modified for that reporter's specific message. The studio then sends direct feeds out to two dozen news organizations. And the whole thing is run with just a handful of people.

The key to this efficiency is a robotic studio. The studio contains more than 20 cameras, all of which are operated by remote control from a central control room. The microphones are wireless to keep a mass of cables from tangling together. All of the lighting is pre-set and easy to adjust. And a single stage can accommodate up to three reporters talking simultaneously. ­


Creating a Report

The set of cameras in the NASDAQ MarketSite
The set of cameras in the NASDAQ MarketSite
©2007 HowStuffWorks

In order for the NASDAQ MarketSite stage to work, each reporter has to be fairly autonomous. The reporter writes his own script, perhaps after having a phone conversation with his news organization. If the reporter wishes to use a teleprompter, he loads the script into the prompter right before the report is delivered. He then calls the wall operator to select the quotes and statistics he wants to appear on the wall behind him during the report.

Now the reporter is ready to begin. He stands on the stage in one of the three positions available. Back in the control room, there are three control consoles for the three stage positions, and a technician can operate the cameras, lights and sound equipment for each reporting position using a large control panel.

Each stage position can have up to eight different cameras, operated by a joystick, allowing the operator to select and cut together different shots during the reporter's session.

A NASDAQ MarketSite control booth A NASDAQ MarketSite control booth
A NASDAQ MarketSite control booth
©2007 HowStuffWorks

Lights work the same way. Each position on stage has several different lighting arrangements. The operator picks an arrangement and brings up the lights.

Sending the Signal Out

The NASDAQ MarketSite confidence monitor allows technicians to see the final product before it's broadcast.
The NASDAQ MarketSite confidence monitor allows technicians to see the final product before it's broadcast.
©2007 HowStuffWorks

A NASDAQ MarketSite technician can see the final version of a report on a screen called the "confidence monitor." This screen shows the technician exactly what is being sent out to the network.

The technician's final act is to adjust the router so that the signal goes to the right network. There are 16 individual fiber strands leaving the studio. Some go straight to a network. Others go to hubs that can route to anywhere in the world on a case-by-case basis.

But what if something goes wrong, or if the network wants to adjust a detail here and there? The network has a phone line that they can use to talk to the technician. The network or technician can also talk to the reporter using an ear piece that the reporter wears known as an IFB.

Other Performances

The MarketSite broadcast studio handles other events, too. For example, every morning there's an opening ceremony held in the studio. A central podium lowers from the ceiling and locks into position on the floor. During an opening ceremony, there might be 30 people standing around the podium at center stage. The broadcast of this ceremony is sent out worldwide, and anyone can pick it up. It is also displayed on the MarketSite Tower in Times Square. A similar closing ceremony happens in the afternoon.

The studio also has a second level that contains glass broadcast booths. Each booth is large enough to hold a reporter, a small desk and chair, a light and a single camera. The reporter can sit in the booth to do a more intimate report, if need be.

An individual reporting booth An individual reporting booth
An individual reporting booth
©2007 HowStuffWorks

There is also a large press room in the MarketSite facility. For special events, members of the press are escorted to the press room and can report from there. To learn more, see the links in the following section.

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