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Media and Entertainment

Overview

The media and entertainment industry consists of film, print, radio, and television. These segments include movies, TV shows, radio shows, news, music, newspapers, magazines, and books. The top 10 media and entertainment companies are The Walt Disney Company, 21st Century Fox, Direct Group Holdings (DIRECTV), Time Warner Inc., NBC Universal, National Amusements Inc., CBS Corporation, Viacom Inc., News Corporation, and TEGNA Inc. The U.S. media and entertainment industry contributes more than $632 billion to the economy and represents a third of the global industry.

The radio and television broadcasting industry is composed of two different types of companies. There are public service broadcasters, where the funding is through public money, and commercial broadcasters, which are funded through advertisement spots. Radio and television broadcasters create and/or acquire content for broadcasting, such as entertainment, news, talk, and other programs. Many television broadcasters use digital broadcasting to transmit pictures that have higher resolution, known as high-definition television (HDTV). They can transmit a single HDTV broadcast or transmit several conventional broadcasts. This “multicasting” means they can transmit a music concert, for example, from several different camera angles on the same channel. Viewers then select the view they’d like to see on their television set. Other types of broadcasters include cable and subscription or fee-based programs that have a more narrow focus, such as sports, education, and youth-oriented programming.

The print industry consists of publishing companies that produce newspapers, magazines, books, journals, and periodicals, their online versions, and directories, mailing lists, software publishing, and video games. As the North American Industry Classification Systems described it, “Publishers may publish works originally created by others for which they have obtained the rights and/or works that they have created in-house.” Published works can be in one or more formats, such as traditional print, eBooks, CD-ROM, or proprietary electronic networks. The world’s five largest publishers, known as the “Big Five,” are Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster.

The film industry is mainly composed of large, multinational corporations, major studios, and independent studios. Many of the top-name film companies are part of larger media conglomerates that also include television, cable, newspaper, and magazine organizations. Within the film industry are subsectors: film production, film exhibition, and film post-production. The top movie companies include 21st Century Fox, Comcast Corporation, The Walt Disney Company, and Viacom Inc.

In general, media and entertainment jobs include reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts; writers and authors; editors; photographers; graphic designers; translators; film and video editors and camera operators; broadcast and sound engineering technicians; announcers; producers and directors; and performers—from actors to musicians and composers. The workers who are behind the scenes and focused on the business side are public relations people, talent agents and representatives, marketing managers, entertainment lawyers, and distribution workers, among others.

We can still access our media and entertainment the old fashioned way, if we choose, by reading publications on paper and watching TV shows on our televisions. But thanks to the Internet and growth of digital content, media and entertainment is now available to us 24/7 through computers, smartphones, tablets, and eBook readers. Wherever we are—whether in an airport, restaurant, at a concert, or doctor’s waiting room—we can go online nearly any time to watch TV shows and movies, listen to radio shows, read books and newspaper articles, and more. Digital video recorders (DVRs) also free us from being glued to our televisions at programs’ air times—we can record the shows we like and watch them when it’s convenient, which is great for us but not so great for advertisers counting on prime-time viewers to see their commercials.

Media and entertainment companies have had to figure out ways to adapt to these technological developments while still attracting consumers and staying solvent. Television networks offer previews and reruns of TV shows on their Web sites. Readers can sample small portions of eBooks through Amazon and other booksellers before buying. Newspapers such as the New York Times allow readers to read a certain number of articles online before requiring them to subscribe. Magazines have also created online versions of their editions and interactive features, such as Self magazine (http://www.self.com) and Wired (https://www.wired.com). Of all the media and entertainment segments, however, the newspaper industry has struggled the most with digital content, as it competes directly with the volume content that’s available for free online. According to Plunkett Research, the daily paid circulation of newspapers was 60 million in 2000, and as of 2016, that number had plummeted to 33.5 million. Many newspapers have since folded, downsized, or gone electronic. All the free online content has also created opportunities for piracy. If someone doesn’t find a show they want to see on a TV or cable network, they may be able to find it online through file-sharing sites and pirate streams. The Motion Picture Association reported that the U.S. economy loses billions of dollars, as well as thousands of jobs, each year because of content theft.

In terms of commerce, the media and entertainment industry contributes significantly to the U.S. economy. The film and television industry alone contribute more than $41 billion each year to the economy and provide nearly 2 million people with employment. The U.S. publishing industry includes more than 6,000 magazine publishing companies with an annual revenue of about $28 billion, 4,227 newspaper companies with combined annual revenue of $26 billion, and about 2,600 book publishing businesses with combined annual revenue of about $27 billion. The U.S. radio broadcasting and programming industry, which includes radio networks and stations, consists of about 3,348 companies that gross an average of about $17 billion annually. Much of the total radio broadcasting revenue is generated by local advertisements on radio programs. There are more than 1,300 television broadcast and cable network companies in the United States, with combined annual revenue of $126 billion.

Uppers
  • Working in media and entertainment is challenging and exciting. Media and entertainment workers are the first to learn the news and have the opportunity to help disseminate it to the public.
  • Many of the jobs give media and entertainment workers the chance to meet and/or work with top celebrities and newsmakers. Even receptionists and office workers can encounter celebrities during their workdays.
  • Being passionate about your job and the field is welcome here. Many people in the film, television, and radio business have a lifelong interest in movies, TV, and radio/music/talk shows. They love creating and producing shows that entertain, enlighten, and educate people.
  • Some media and entertainment jobs offer opportunities to travel for assignments. Broadcasters, reporters, writers, editors, broadcast technicians, and others involved in film, TV, and radio programming may need to travel regionally or internationally to cover events or news.
  • There can be flexibility to work in other media and entertainment fields. Some skills and knowledge are transferable from one industry to the next. For example, broadcasters can work in radio, television, cable, and Internet. Writers, editors, reporters, producers, directors can apply their knowledge to the publishing field, radio, TV, film, as well as the Internet.
Downers
  • Entry-level pay for media and entertainment jobs is usually low. Tons of people consider this a glamorous field—everyone wants to work here so there are far more job candidates than there are jobs to fill. On the positive side, with increased skill and experience comes more responsibility and higher wages.  
  • The work hours will be long, very long, especially for those new to the industry. The “pay your dues” attitude prevails. Everyone has to put their time in to make it in the business. It’s going to be challenging but if you can be patient and maintain a positive and helpful attitude, people will want to work with you and you’ll have more opportunities for job growth.
  • Some jobs, particularly in TV and radio broadcasting, have late-night, middle-of-the-night, and early-morning shifts. Workers must be prepared to adjust sleep schedules and their lives to accommodate work.
  • Competition is fierce. If you can’t accept the work conditions, countless candidates are in the wings ready to step in and do your job…and they’ll do it with great enthusiasm. It’s a buyer’s market for media and entertainment companies.
  • There’s little opportunity to settle down and get comfortable in your work because the jobs in media and entertainment are constantly evolving and being redefined. For instance, journalists no longer simply report the facts—many are now expected to post on Twitter and Facebook, and newspaper reporters often double as cameramen, shooting videos for Web sites. No matter what level they are at in their careers, media and entertainment workers need to constantly hone their skills by taking classes and knowing how to use the latest technology.
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