Broadcasters spending billions archiving content: BTBS

HONG KONG: Media companies are estimated to be hoarding 6,700 years worth of TV, film and music content, costing them billions of pounds a year.

A recent report commissioned by BT Broadcast Services (BTBS) and compiled by Datamonitor, finds that this investment is also a sunk cost as most of the archived material is never used again, although the research suggests that digitising the archives and making them available online could finance the costs of today's lost footage.

The white paper, 'Digital Content Management and the True Cost - Staying Analogue', highlights the spiralling costs and ignorance that surrounds archived content. Data for the report was collected over two years through interviews with senior executives from the TV, film and music industries.

Over the course of the research, Datamonitor was unable to find a single company that could accurately estimate the cost of keeping and distributing archived material. The research found that the average cost per hour of traditional archived content is 38, which includes: labour costs, physical storage, re-formatting and renewal. It cost an additional 75 to find, re-edit and distribute this content for re-use.

Despite these costs and the burgeoning use of digital technology, nearly all content is stored in analogue format, the report finds that digital storage would save 16 per hour on re-formatting costs alone. The average cost of delivering analogue content is estimated to be 75. The paper predicts that by 2004, 44 per cent of all new TV content will be digital.

Head of content services at BTBS David Jamieson said, "It's not surprising that media owners are afraid of the digital revolution, after all most technological changes cost money and are complex and disrupting processes. But the true cost of doing nothing is astronomical and not an option anymore - particularly when you consider the huge, untapped revenue streams that a well publicised, digital archive represents."

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