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Media and Entertainment


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 largest media and entertainment companies include Comcast Corporation, Walt Disney Company, Charter Communications, Warner Bros. Discovery, Netflix, Publicis Group SA, Omnicom Groupe SA, Fox, DISH Network, WPP Plc, and Paramount. The U.S. media and entertainment industry contributes more than $717 billion to the economy and represents a third of the global media and entertainment industry. Revenue for the global media and entertainment industry was $2.32 trillion in 2022, representing small growth over previous years due to a slowdown in consumer spending.

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 System 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 Warner Bros., Universal, Sony/Columbia, Lionsgate, Paramount, and Walt Disney Company.

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) have freed people from being glued to their televisions at programs’ air times—we can record the shows we like and watch them when it’s convenient. Video and TV on demand has also enabled us to watch shows that have already aired. These options are 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 ( and Wired ( Of all the media and entertainment segments, however, the newspaper industry has struggled the most with digital content, as it competes directly with the volumes of content that’s available for free online. The daily U.S. circulation of newspapers was 60 million in 2000, and as of 2021, that number had dropped down to 24.3 million for weekday subscriptions and nearly 26 million for Sundays, including print and digital combined. 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 U.S. film and TV industry provides more than 2.4 million people with employment and pays about $186 billion in total wages. There are about 1,252 cable network companies in the United States, with a market size of $94 billion. The U.S. publishing industry includes more than 6,000 magazine and periodical publishing companies with an annual revenue of about $40 billion, 8,412 newspaper companies with combined annual revenue of $31 billion, and about 1,944 book publishing businesses with combined annual revenue of more than $28 billion. The U.S. radio broadcasting and programming industry, which includes radio networks and stations, consists of about 4,882 companies that gross an average of about $24 billion annually. Much of the total radio broadcasting revenue is generated by local advertisements on radio programs.

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