ITV Studios boosts productivity by streamlining management of picture archive

ITV Studios ITV is the largest commercial television network in the UK, delivering 99% of all commercial audiences in the UK over 5 million viewers and in 2019 is achieving its highest share of viewing in 11 years. It broadcasts a wide variety of content on its family of free-to-air channels and on demand, via numerous platforms, including the ITV Hub. During its rich over 60-year history, ITV has produced stellar programs, including award-winning TV shows such as Coronation Street, This Morning and Emmerdale.

Over the years, ITV’s vast image collection has continuously grown and as a result, streamlining the storage and management of its picture archive has become a critical requirement for the production team.

The Challenge

Inefficient Image Search

The team at ITV Studios found their previous image library management system inefficient. With images stored in different places and a picture archive dating back to the 70s, using metadata such as keywords to search and find specific images became a real challenge. Searches generated hundreds of results, rather than the ten or so the team wanted. Users sometimes purchased duplicate licensed images for TV programs and promotional activities, as there was no way to track previously downloaded images. Robert Waghorn, Senior Production Technology and Applications Manager at ITV Studios, explains how moving to a sophisticated and easy-to-use digital asset management solution has brought greater efficiency to how the team manages its picture archive.

ITV Media Library

Robert comments:

"Uploading images using the previous tool was very slow, as image sizes are now a lot larger compared to five and ten years ago. We needed to find a solution that would cater for these increasing image sizes and storage that is scalable to meet our increasing demands. The option to use a cloud-hosted solution became a priority as this would allow us to easily grow our archive."

The Solution

Quick and Simple Cloud-hosted Tool

With the numerous issues and limitations that came from using a tool that was no longer fit for purpose, ITV searched for a solution to streamline the management of its picture archive that required minimal customization. Having researched different systems, Third Light’s digital asset management solution was chosen, as it ticked all the boxes, including a quick and simple set-up, and importantly, it was cloud-hosted.

ITV has been using Third Light since 2016, with the tool deployed by two separate departments, the Daytime and Continuing Drama teams. The Daytime team, which produces TV shows, such as Good Morning Britain, Lorraine and This Morning, uses Third Light’s media library as a picture archiving research tool for storing and managing images and to do the billing for clips that they show during their programs. This functionality, in particular, involves the team running custom reports from Third Light, based on inputted metadata. Every time an image appears on screen during one of the TV shows, the metadata enables the team to track when an image is transmitted, so they are able to do the billing at the back of this.

The newest instance of the software is used by ITV’s Internal Communications team, the Pay and Distribution team and the Continuing Drama team, which produces programs such as Coronation Street and Emmerdale.

Robert explains:

"A couple of years ago, we moved our Daytime team into Third Light and they loved the solution; we then introduced Third Light to the Continuing Drama team to have a look at and they really liked it too, so we took the decision to migrate all of their assets to Third Light."


Greater Efficiency When Managing Images

Being able to run custom metadata reports has been a huge benefit for how ITV manages its images archive. Previously, the Daytime team had to enter every image they used individually. Now, with Third Light’s media library, when they upload a photo the team is able to do a bulk metadata edit about the TV show it went out on, the date it went out on, and Third Light generates a spreadsheet based on this, saving the team valuable time. As Coronation Street, Britain’s longest-running soap opera celebrates 60 years in 2020, Third Light will continue to play a key role in enabling the team at ITV to efficiently manage its rich picture archive.

Robert adds:

"What was a two-hour job before is now a five-minute job for us. The ease of use and the fact we can access our media library outside our network have had the greatest appeal for us."

"Metadata is very important for the Daytime team. The team needs to track the usage of the images for their billing by logging how many times an image has been used on air and from where the image has been sourced."

Personalization Features for Tailored Branding

The use of the colour picking feature in Third Light’s media library, which enables ITV to customize the theme of the site, has brought significant benefits. Robert explains how this handy feature has encouraged greater user adoption of the media library:

"One feature that the team really likes is being able to brand the site per user group within the site template. We have a generic ITV site, so we use the ITV logo and the automatic colour picking feature. Also, we restrict users’ view, so the Coronation Street team for example can only see the Coronation Street’s image archive, and their site’s branding is Coronation Street specific. Good Morning Britain’s branding is different to This Morning’s branding."

"It allows us to make each individual user group feel that the product is for them."

ITV has over a million images across the two instances of Third Light, with 3 TB of storage in their main biggest Third Light site. As its picture archive continues to grow in the coming years, having a powerful, future-proof system with storage flexibility, is a crucial asset for the team.

Third Light works with leading brands and organizations worldwide to help them manage, store, share and distribute digital media more effectively. If you think we could help your team too, sign-up today for a fully featured 30-day free trial. Visit to try it instantly, or talk to us about a guided tour, just

DAM - Digital Asset Management Metadata