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7AAICC50 Entertainment Industries

Module convenor: Dr Vincent Gaine
Teaching pattern: Ten two-hour workshops

Module description:

Examining dynamics and trends shaping contemporary media industries, this module provides critical and practical insights for analysing the business of commercial entertainment. After mapping the terrain of the entertainment industries, the main body of the module is thematically organized to develop a framework that encourages students to 'read' the entertainment industries for how these are shaped by four key dynamics: concentration, globalization, digitalization and the control of intellectual property.

Each of these points of focus is approached by an introductory session outlining core general concepts and issues relating to the relevant dynamic before the following week uses a case study example to explore that dynamic in a particular context. For example: profiling the conglomeration of diversified media corporations helps illustrate how industries and markets for mass entertainment media are dominated by concentrations of corporate power; studying the television format business gives a vantage point from which to unpack the complexities of media globalization; looking at the emergence of digital distribution services and markets offers a useful way of grasping how digitalization is changing the conditions in which entertainment content is now consumed, circulated and produced; and looking at international efforts taken by the entertainment industries to combat media piracy illustrates how those industries seek to manage and control the value of intellectual property.

Working in this way, the module combines macro and micro levels of analysis. To address these dynamics, examples are drawn from the film, television, music and gaming industries, and as the module aims to emphasize the international organization of entertainment industries and markets, so the module draws on examples from various national, regional or municipal contexts. Assessment of the module requires students to compile a report identifying and evaluating trends currently shaping one aspect of the entertainment business.

As preparation for researching and writing the report, the module includes a session where students are introduced to accessing and working with certain specialized news and data resources. While this report requires students to adopt the position of a media market analyst, by providing insights and skills for 'reading' the entertainment business, this assessment task enables students to develop a broad grasp of the general contextual circumstances within which entertainment industries and markets operate, and so is relevant to all roles in the sector.

Indicative teaching syllabus

Week 1:  Introduction to Entertainment Industries

After mapping the scope and scale of the commercial entertainment industries, this session sets out the core conceptual and critical ground of the module by outlining the impacts of concentration, digitization, globalization and intellectual property on the entertainment industries.


Week 2: Entertainment Industry Structures

In this and the following weeks, the module sets out foundations for understanding and critically interrogating how the industries and markets for media entertainment are dominated by concentrations of monopolistic and oligopolistic power, assessing opportunities within these structures for independent production or dissemination, and the implications of these structures have for creative autonomy.

Week 3: Entertainment Empires

Building on the work of the previous week, this session uses case study profiles of selected major media and entertainment conglomeration to illustrate how these organizations are shaped by the dynamics of vertical and horizontal integration, economies of scale and scope, global expansion, and the stock piling of intellectual property rights.


Week 4: Digital Entertainment Markets

As the module turns its focus to digitization, this session explores how digital media have transformed but also established markets for popular entertainment, and the tensions these changes have created between the most powerful traditional and emergent corporate players in the entertainment economy.

Week 5: Entertainment On-demand

Elaborating the concerns of the previous week, this session offers a case study of developments in the online distribution of music, film and television content, considering how streaming and downloading services are transforming entertainment markets and business models, and considering how these changes are changing the corporate landscape of media entertainment.


Week 6: Researching and Analysing Entertainment Industries

As preparation for the module assessment, this session introduces students to how they may work with and access various categories of source material when researching and preparing their reports, including relevant databases, trade periodicals, company and market reports, and items of legislation.


Week 7: Global Entertainment

Moving onto the module’s third thematic focus, globalization, this session provides an analytic framework for navigating the potentially confusing terrain of global exchanges, approaching how transnational exchanges of commercial entertainment can be mapped across global media firms, flows, technologies, forms and publics. 

Week 8: Television Format Business

To help students appreciate how transnational flows and forms of entertainment negotiate positions between the global and the local, this session undertakes a case study exploring the television format business, outlining how that business works, profiling the leading international providers in the format trade, and analysing the value of formats in the global television marketplace.


Week 9: Copyrighting Entertainment

In the final two weeks, the module turns to the importance of intellectual property rights for the entertainment industries, providing students with a basic understanding of how copyright and trademark commodify entertainment content, and using case study examples to critically assess the measures now taken by the entertainment industries to protect, enforce and extend these rights.

Week 10: Shadow Economies of Entertainment

Consolidating issues covered in previous weeks, while at the same time departing from the focus on the legitimate entertainment industries that has defined the module to this point, this last session considers what the unauthorized economy of media piracy can tell us about innovation, ownership and consumption in commercial entertainment today.

Module aims

This module aims to:

  • examine dynamics and trends shaping commercial entertainment industries
  • explore how entertainment industry dynamics operate across a range of popular media and in differing national contexts
  • provide a descriptive account of how entertainment industries and markets are structured
  • critically interrogate entertainment industries as generators of cultural and economic power
  • integrate macro and micro levels of analysis to explain the general and specific workings of the entertainment industries
  • enable students to acquire and apply the research skills necessary for conducting their own independent analysis and interpretation of current developments in entertainment industries and markets

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to demonstrate their ability to:

  • identify and critically evaluate the impact of core dynamics on the organization and conduct of contemporary commercial entertainment industries
  • employ specialized analytic frameworks and conceptual terms relevant to the analysis of entertainment industries and markets
  • understand the structural organization of entertainment industries and markets
  • flexibly comprehend the impact of industry dynamics across different media industries, national contexts and case study examples
  • access and effectively synthesize complex, incomplete or contradictory evidence and data
  • compile an independent analysis of contemporary developments in entertainment industries

Core reading

  • Doyle, G., 2013. Understanding media economics 2nd ed. London: Sage.
  • Flew, T., 2018. Understanding global media 2nd ed. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Havens, T. and Lotz, A. D., 2016. Understanding media industries 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Kunz, W. M., 2006. Culture conglomerates: consolidation in the motion picture and television industries. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Lobato, R. and Thomas, J., 2015. The informal media economy. Cambridge: Polity.
  • McDonald, P. and Wasko, J., eds. 2008. The contemporary Hollywood film industry. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
  • Mirrlees, T., 2013. Global entertainment media: between cultural imperialism and cultural globalization. London: Routledge.


1 x 4,000 word critical report (100%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

 The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

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