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Audio Visual Archives See Opportunities for Growth

24 August 2010

Audio Visual Archives See Opportunities for Growth


Article taken from the DAILY NEWS Aug 24, 2010  

The customer base for archived media content has grown rapidly in the past few years, expanding beyond in-house broadcast users, educators and cultural institutions to include advertisers, filmmakers and online content producers.

Now, the global trade in audio-visual archive content generates some $450 million dollars (USD) in revenue a year.

The archive industry has grown in value at a compound annual growth rate of nearly five per cent over the past five years, according to findings of a new study from Screen Digest and trade bodies FOCAL International and FIAT/IFTA, the International Federation of Television Archives.

'The Global Trade in Audiovisual Archives' Report

The report 'The Global Trade in Audiovisual Archives' is the first of its kind to assess the business of archive content and the new opportunities offered in the digital media world. Uniquely, the report includes estimates on the global volume and value of trade in archive content.

"Audiovisual archives fulfil a central role in the businesses of many media groups, but this is the only study to actually examine the business of storing and selling audiovisual archive content," said author Claire Harvey. "Our findings show that the trade in archives is an important part of the wider media economy, with content supplied by archives appearing in an ever increasing range of outlets. The growing variety of consumer platforms for accessing short-form, long-tail content means that this key role will only grow in importance."

It's estimated that a total of 42.7 million hours of content are held in the world's archives, most of it (72%) on tape, with about 20% on film and about 10% in an HD digital format.

However, just 21% of archive content is rights-ready, the report indicates.

Contrary to popular belief, archives are not full of stuffy old clips of obscure events, they are dynamic businesses; the research shows that 30 per cent of material held is less than five years old, and half of all content less than a decade. Stock footage, news and documentary content is the corner stone of the business in terms of volume of trade (75 per cent) and value (63 per cent), but archives also fulfil an important heritage and cultural role.

The digital content economy

Archives are investing in content and technology innovation to take advantage of new opportunities. The digital content economy has created an environment of 'mashups' and user-generated content; as production budgets are squeezed programme makers turn to reusing not creating content; and as online consumers increasingly expect media content for free, archives are enjoying growing demand from businesses as well as the wider public.

However, the pace of business and the ever-changing technological demands of the media industry have left archives facing difficult choices. Despite the decline in the costs of digital storage, the demands of holding the nearly 43m hours of content held in the world's archives remain substantial. Finding and accessing that content can be even more problematic, with issues surrounding digital asset management, metadata and customer access portals all at the fore.

The industry has taken innovative steps to address these issues, including experimenting with user-generated metadata and providing advanced access portals that allow real-time clip selection and on-the-fly transcoding.

Preservation of content stored on an array of formats, many of which are near-obsolete, is also an on-going challenge, with the demands of commercial value constantly weighed against cultural and heritage preservation.

Surprisingly, it is some of the more recent formats, particularly tape-based formats of the 1980s and 1990s that are most at risk.

Full article

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