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DAM: Building Utility into Media

Baseball fans are extremely detail-oriented folk — the most hardcore among them can cite Derek Jeter’s slugging percentage without batting an eye. Perhaps that’s why Major League Baseball has been leading the way with its implementation of a digital asset management (DAM) solution, powered by Virage. MLB has digitized and archived video of every single pitch in every single game this year, so that visitors to MLB.com (www.MLB.com) can create their own customized highlight reels, choosing specific teams, games; even favorite players. So, for example, you can watch all of Barry Bond’s home runs. Even better — all of his home runs against right-handed Dodgers pitchers, during day games, in the month of July.

This level of granularity is the strength of video indexing technology, though it’s just one part of the digital asset management sphere. Total DAM solutions are enterprise-class software packages — somewhat like large libraries or databases — that let customers digitize, catalog, store, search, share and even redistribute media. Typical DAM systems support audio, video, text, graphics and many other types of media. Though DAM deals with rich media content that will be stored or streamed, the entire process of indexing and managing this content is typically done offline.

Currently, most DAM systems are used by large media companies; those with big libraries of media files that need to be managed. But as they leverage digital media for communications and other applications, many corporate customers are seeing the benefits of DAM, as well.

Even if you don’t use a DAM system now, odds are you will. Frost and Sullivan analyst Mukul Krishna predicts that the overall DAM market will reach $2.6 billion in 2007. "Around 2003, the corporate market will overtake entertainment marginally in terms of revenue generation," says Krishna. After 2004 or 2005, he says, when the FCC mandate to digitize TV signals kicks in, the entertainment market will rule again.

But what do you get for your digitization and storage of media content? Benefits vary depending on what kind of company you are. Generally, however, you can expect a DAM system to save you production costs, make it easier to manage and find your media, streamline your workflows and even share and collaborate with the data.

Dan Agan, vice president of corporate market development at Convera, says the ability to publish derivative works of existing content is one of the major benefits of a DAM system. On NBA. com (www.nba.com) , the National Basketball Association has its own highlight reel service, MyHighlights, created by video indexer Convera. "You can take existing material and re-express it, so organizations can exploit it through services or syndication," Agan says. "The NBA is establishing the infrastructure now in preparation for a pretty robust future market for video on the Web."

Although both the NBA and MLB highlight services are free now, they will eventually be offered as premium subscription services.

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