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Overcoming the barriers of storing archive footage

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In the broadcast industry, archive footage fulfils an important role by allowing broadcasters and media production companies to build previous content into new programmes and create a more compelling story. We see this most commonly within live broadcast, such as in the build-up to sports events, when broadcasters will use content from previous tournaments to provide context, add to the excitement and, sometimes, just to ensure the programme is long enough to fill the time allocated to it. Yet, despite its importance, many broadcasters experience significant challenges when trying to access archive footage, saved in different places across disparate systems or, most frustratingly, just being unable to find it.

Broadcasters tend to have facilities across several locations which means storing and sharing content among themselves and with other organisations, along with multiple users, can be difficult. Often, a number of databases or file sharing platforms are in use and content can’t be found easily. This content may then be impossible to recreate, or if it can be, it’s at a large cost to the business. Similarly, with employees for an organisation frequently spread out across the globe, there are ineffective systems in place to store and share content and once a person leaves the business, they also take their knowledge of where content is located with them.

With so much new content being created on a daily basis, the amount of archive material held by broadcasters is only increasing. While they may be able to overcome the issue of storing that footage, finding it again can present a whole new series of problems. For instance, how is it organised, what format is it in and how can they find specific video clips at any given time? With such a vast library, pinpointing a certain piece that contains a particular goal from the 1998 World Cup, for example, can become a mammoth task. So, how can broadcasters overcome these challenges and calm the headache the storage of archive footage presents?

As the creation of new content builds, the amount of older material created by broadcasters and media companies has also increased. As a result, the size and scale of the problem they are dealing with in terms of the management and storage will grow  in tandem. To alleviate this, these organisations must look to implement a more robust cloud-based solution which will ensure their digital assets are not only protected but also reusable for the future. While this will require a small initial investment of time and money to implement, it is a low-risk, high-reward approach which will allow broadcasters to safely store, search and share content internally and has the potential to provide a number of significant benefits.

One of the biggest additional advantages provided by a video management platform is the opportunity to monetise content. As we have seen with nearly every major broadcaster, a wealth of programmes or footage stored online creates the potential for VOD services, such as the BBC with the BBC iPlayer and HBO’s streaming service HBO Now. While the majority of broadcasters won’t have a back catalogue on the same scale, moving to a single, digitised catalogue of content can allow them to create platforms showcasing their content on a smaller scale and therefore create new revenue streams. Additionally, opting for a single digital solution may give broadcasters the push they need to digitise archive footage which may currently only exist on film or video and is therefore easily lost, damaged or destroyed. This will ensure their content is safeguarded for future use and removes the risk and expense that comes as a result of having to recreate footage that only exists as a hard copy.

With broadcast space becoming more competitive, due to the launch of new streaming services and broadcasters fighting for the rights to sports events, film and TV series, those that fail to address the challenge of storing existing content will see the problem worsen and will feel the effects on the quality of their output. Yet, those that act and implement a new solution stand to benefit greatly from a more efficient system that not only grants peace of mind and ease of use but also the potential to create new revenue streams.

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