How to Commercialise Sports Film and Tape Archives

24 October 2023

How to Commercialise Sports Film and Tape Archives : Sports film and tape archives are a treasure trove of historical moments, iconic performances, and emotional victories that have captured the hearts of fans for generations. In addition to their cultural and educational value, sports film and tape archives also hold tremendous commercial potential.

In the current political and economic climates the trend towards the consumption of (and the positive response to) nostalgic content and messages is easy to understand. Consumers and sports fans are increasingly longing to reflect on (what they perceive as) the simpler and better past times.

Therefore, with the right approach, these archives can be monetised while preserving their essence and significance. Here, we will explore some effective strategies for commercialising sports film and tape archives without compromising their integrity.

1. Digitisation and Accessibility

The first step in commercialising any film and tape archive is digitisation. Converting physical footage into a digital format ensures longevity and easy access to the content. A well-organised and user-friendly digital archive makes it convenient for a potential audience/buyer to browse and discover the extensive collection of content. Creating a subscription-based model or even a pay-per-view system for accessing the archive allows fans, historians, and media outlets to relive iconic moments. Offering different subscription tiers* with varying levels of access ensures flexibility for users and maximises revenue potential.

*= Clubs and sporting bodies can provide access to historic games and/or game highlights from their archive as part of a select membership benefits package as an example.

2. Partnerships and Licensing

Collaborating with media companies, sports networks, and production houses can be an effective way to commercialise such a film and tape archive. Licensing agreements can be negotiated to allow these partners to use the archived footage in their documentaries, films, and television programs.

Furthermore, partnering with brands (local, national or global) for commercial endorsements and advertisements could generate additional revenue streams. This might be achieved via content sponsorship or the use of content within brand marketing campaigns for example. Careful curation and responsible use of the archive should ensure that the integrity of the content is maintained while allowing it to reach wider audiences through different channels.

3. Exclusive Merchandise and Memorabilia

Leveraging the emotional connection fans have with iconic sporting moments, creating exclusive merchandise and memorabilia can be a lucrative avenue for commercialisation. Prints, posters, t-shirts, and collectibles featuring stills discovered from famous games or legendary players caught on film or tape can be produced and sold in store, online or through external retail partnerships (providing you have the appropriate image rights)

Auctions of authentic memorabilia related to the archived content, such as game-worn jerseys from a match, can generate considerable interest and high bids from passionate collectors.

4. Educational and Corporate

Beyond catering to sports enthusiasts, these film and tape archives can also serve as a valuable resource for educational institutions and corporate organisations. Schools and universities might find historical sports footage relevant for educational purposes, while corporations could use it to inspire and motivate their employees. Offering specialised packages and licensing options for educational and corporate use can open up a new customer base and generate regular revenue streams.

5. Live Events and Exhibitions

Hosting live events and exhibitions centred around the sports film archive can create a unique and immersive experience for fans. Organising screenings of historic games or hosting panel discussions with the sporting legends featured within them can attract crowds and encourage ticket sales and sponsorship opportunities.

Temporary or travelling exhibitions that showcase rare memorabilia and interactive displays can draw attention from both sports enthusiasts and tourists, resulting in more increased revenue through ticket sales and merchandise.

6. Digital and Social Media Engagement

In the modern digital age, social media platforms offer unparalleled opportunities to engage with audiences and commercialise content. Regularly sharing snippets of archived footage, behind-the-scenes content, and historical trivia on social media can attract a significant interest and is an essential part of the modern marketing mix when connecting with/growing fanbases and followers.

Through online advertising and strategic partnerships with influencers and sports content creators, the sports archive can gain more visibility, leading to increased traffic and potential revenue. Digitised archive content is easier and quicker to repurpose and upload to social channels than commissioning, producing and editing new content.


Commercialising a sports film and tape archive is a balancing act between unlocking its value for profitability and preserving its essence for future generations. By prioritising digitisation to allow full access to an archive and then seeking to share it directly via a successful combination of strategic channels and partnerships, the archive can become a sustainable revenue stream without compromising any of its historical significance.

Additionally, embracing the power of social media and live events can further elevate the commercial prospects of the archive while fostering a stronger connection with a community and fanbase. With careful planning and responsible management, a sports moving image archive can thrive as a commercial venture while continuing to inspire, educate, and entertain sports fans for years to come.

ITV Content Services has decades of experience in digitising, upscaling, restoring, transferring most commercial and domestic legacy film and tape formats. It now offers this knowledge and expertise to external archives both nationally and globally. If you would like to learn more and unlock some of the potential from your own archive, please contact us.

ITV Content Services
104 Kirkstall Road