Associated Press demand reaches record high

Associated Press saw demand for its television news service reach record highs in the first half of 2011 following one of the most intense news periods in years.

The average number of monthly hits, a single use of video content by a client broadcaster, in the first six months of the year was 260,000 – up from 160,000 in 2010.

The figures peaked in March at more than 300,000 hits – the highest-ever figure for Associated Press Television News (APTN) since it began tracking video hits, driven largely by Japan’s tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster, coupled with the unrest in Libya.

Associated Press deputy director of news Mark Davies also cites the royal wedding, the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the arrests of Ratko Mladic and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the Australian floods and the New Zealand earthquake for the unusually high figures in 2011.

‘It’s been an increasingly busy six months,’he told Press Gazette. ‘We’ve literally had to hop-scotch crews from one disaster to the next, but the demand is so great from broadcasters to get footage to them.

‘It means we’ve been pulling people from every region in the world, and moving them as quickly as we can. A lot of people haven’t been home for six or seven weeks.”

In the first half of 2011 APTN footage has been used more than 1,560,000 times by the 350 broadcasters worldwide that it tracks – and this sample represents only around half the total broadcast clients, meaning the total figure could be as high as 2,500,000.

‘I’ve been here since 2003, and the only other time I can recall it being this busy in the newsroom was after the tsunami in Asia [2004],” said Davies.

‘But then you were looking at one story. I can’t remember a period when we had this many stories going at the same time.”

He added: ‘Stories that you might expect to run for a week or two weeks – like the Australian floods and cyclone or the New Zealand earthquake – were being quickly replaced.

‘People’s attention span becomes a lot smaller when the next big story comes along. Something like the New Zealand earthquake you would expect to be one of the biggest stories of the year, but in terms of hits it’s down the list.’

Davies said APTN made the first first live broadcast from behind rebel lines in Libya, and after the earthquake hit Japan became the first to secure access to national broadcaster NHK’s live coverage, giving clients a live helicopter feed as the tsunami swept ashore.

They also were first on the scene when the tsunami triggered a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima power plant – delivering video of both explosions ahead of competitors – and the first TV news agency to reach Minamisanriku, the town which later become a symbol for the destruction wreaked by the tsunami.

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