Media Ownership Essay

To what extent does media ownership have an impact on the successful distribution of media products in the media area you have studied 2015

Todays film industry could be described as an oligopoly as the 7 largest film companies own 90% of the total market meaning the influence and power they have in releasing and distributing their products is huge when compared to smaller independent companies methods. The Big 6 is a term to the seemingly monopolised film industry that involves merely 6 conglomerates, those being;  GE, News Corp, Disney, VIACOM, CBS and Time Warner. The Big 6 have developed a routine method of releasing their films regulated by the “release windows”. The release windows system was first conceived in the early 1980s, as a strategy to keep movies from competing with each other, allowing the movie to take advantage of different markets such as cinema, home video and TV at different times. While The Big 6 loosely follow this model for almost all of their releases, they can do this purely due to the immense amount of wealth they hold, whereas smaller independent film companies have to develop their own unique ways of distributing their films.

Channel 4 as a whole is worth £1B which although is a respectable figure for a businesses worth, but it is a drop in the ocean for the conglomerates. Because of the relatively small company worth they have had to develop unique ways of distributing their films. An example of a small company being able to successfully distribute their film is Channel 4’s A Field in England directed by Ben Wheatley. With such a small production cost of £300,000 the film was able to spend money elsewhere which included getting the film distributed to as many outlets as possible while still keeping the costs low. One way Channel 4 achieved this was by developing a symbiotic relationship with Film4 and Picturehouse who had previously created a synergy of their own. Film4 and Picturehouse decided to create a synergy in order to lower the risk of losses due to the risky nature of the film. Both sets of companies benefited from the symbiotic relationship as it provided exposure from one fan base to the other. By distributing the product this way not only could they show their film on their own platform boasting an impressive audience of 13.1m, but they could also release it on film4’s platform. This method was successful as on the opening weekend, for the non theatrical viewing, the film attracted 367,000 people as well as an additional 714 on Film 4’s VOD platform, Film 4OD. In terms of theatrical release, that is where Picturehouse comes into the equation. Due to the exclusiveness of the film and the reputation Picturehouse has of the films it chooses to show in cinemas, they were able to sell the tickets for a high price which not only helped them financially but it also helped channel 4 gain more discussion and exposure of the film. Working with Picturehouse was also a success as it tuned over it projected earnings of £35,000. This unique way of releasing the film was overall successful as it made profit of £50,000 and proved that the involvement of conglomerates were not needed in order to distribute a film successfully.

A successfully distributed film owned by a conglomerate would be Warner Brothers’ Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Due to Warner Brothers Studio being owned by Time Warner which is 1 of the “Big 6” and is worth £47 billion, the film was completely self funded on a budget of £140 million. Convincing the studio to spend £140 million on the film was relatively easy as they had previously worked on the Harry Potter franchise which grossed £5.9 billion in the 8 movies made. Not only was the franchise proven to make almost £750 million per movie but it was guaranteed to pull a wide range of audience due to the amount of exposure the company is able to give the film. For most of Time Warners films, they use Horizontal integration, however for the Harry Potter franchise their is an exception in which they use vertical integration due to Heyday films being independent yet still affiliating themselves with the harry potter franchise. Although this means Time warner has to share some of the profits to a company that isn’t owned by them, they benefit more than they lose as they get exclusive access to their prestigious studios that all of the previous Harry Potter movies have used. Distributing the film is an easy task as a conglomerate as the film just having the logo attached to it, means it is able to be widely distributed. The film followed the classic release windows system in which they theatrically released it first in cinemas to over 1000 IMAX theatres and over 3000 regular theatres world wide. After the films views stagnated in the cinemas, a few months later the film arrived on digital platforms such as Google, AmazonPrime and Channel 4 as they had a promotional agreement. DvD’s were then released on the 28th of march and included additional features such as deleted scenes and virtual tours around the studio. Overall the film grossed £630 million through distributing the film in this way.

Although the profit margins between the small company and the conglomerate is huge, it is undeniable that their methods of distributing their films are both successful. It could be said that in order to have a risk free and 100% successful distribution of a movie, you need intervention of a media conglomerate due to the purchasing power and market control that they posses. However, as shown by A field in England‘s release, it is still very possible to distribute a film successfully due to symbiotic relationships they are able to form and synergy that occurs. Media ownership is no longer completely accountable to a certain extent,  for a successful film in the ever changing film industry. A field in England‘s release is an example of a step in the right direction for independents and it could be possible that we see the conglomerates control of 90% of the market drop in the coming years if independents can carry on distributing their movies in the unique and successful way they are doing so.


New Technologies Essay

To what extent has the internet played a significant role in the marketing and exchange of media products in the area you have studied?

Created in 1983 and commercially used in 1995 the internet has been rapidly growing and has played a major role in all aspects of modern life, including the marketing and exchange of films. As of May 2017 3.6 billion people have access to the internet which means that around 46% of the world population has an internet connection today. In 1995 less than 1% of the world’s population had access to the internet meaning the number of internet users has increased tenfold in just 22 years. With this rapid increase in a new platform of consuming media means that the marketing and exchange of films has had to adapt.

Social media has developed out of the internet and sites such as Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter have now become integrated in modern society. Snapchat and Instagram boast over 400 million daily users collectively and it is because of the huge amount of traffic that runs through the social media site, that film companies have started to take an interest in advertising their films through it rather than traditional means. Symbiotic relationships have thus formed out of the cooperation between social media sites and film companies, as both companies can benefit from working together. In exchange for increasing the awareness of the film through their social media site, the film companies will often release exclusive trailers on the said social media site which means dedicated fans of the film or franchise will often sign up to use the site. David Yates’ Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them utilised the social media websites of Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook to market the film to arguably a great success by developing a symbiotic relationship with them. Upwards of $750,000 per day was spent to market FBWFT through snapchat filters as well as non-skip adverts and this provide global exposure to 308 million active monthly users as it ran for 35 days. Using Snapchat, they were also able to market their film to a specific target audience as we see that the highest proportion of users on snapchat are between the ages of 14 to 24 which means the platform was perfect for marketing the film. Instagram was also used in a similar manor to advertise the film, where they too had compulsory adverts that every one of its users had to watch in order to access the site. When it came to advertising on Facebook’s platform of over 1.8 billion users The FBWFT Facebook page took a different approach. Not only did the Facebook page run adds and exclusive teasers but it also served as a platform to sell merchandise and offer giveaways which often involved users sharing a certain form of promotion on their Facebook page which would then cause the advert to have more exposure. Ultimately, the film would not have been exposed to such a huge audience and may not of earned its $812 million had it not been for the internet and development of social media. A more specific way of utilising social media to market a film to a target audience is Twitter. Twitter is unique in that advertising is mostly done through fans of the site as there is a feature in which you ‘retweet’ a film companies adverts which then causes exposure of the advertisement to snowball across the huge amount of users. Ben Wheatley used his loyal 12,000 followers to cause the ‘snowball effect’ when releasing his new film A Field In England as it became the most trending topic on the whole of the website during its Friday releaseThis proved as a useful method of marketing as when people who watched the movie were surveyed 54% of the under 35’s stated that they heard about the film via social media and 35% of the over 35’s also heard about it through its unique marketing on social media. Ricky Gervais similarly used Twitter to market his film as on the 23rd of March 2016, he released an exclusive trailer of his new film Special Correspondents to his 12.3 million followers.

With the introduction of the internet, there has been a constant ever-growing demand to have access to movies at any given time and it is because of this that the distribution of films has had to change and adapt to the modern day consumers demands. From the consumers demands films are now commonly distributed through VOD, Subscription VOD and transactional VOD. Netflix is one one of the most popular subscription based video on demand service as customers gain access to a large variety of shows and movies for as long as they have access to the internet and pay the required amount monthly. Ricky Gervais’ David Brent: Life on the road was sold to Netflix due to its huge audience of 86 million users in 190 countries. Due to Ricky Gervais being ‘glad’ about the success of his Netflix release he went on to do a similar project through the release of Special Correspondents. Netflix bought the global distribution rights for roughly $12 million and was released exclusively to Netflix meaning fans of the popular celebrity would have to pay a subscription fee for a month if they wanted to access the film. A Field in England exclusively utilised the popularity and the different methods of VOD and gained 714 views through Film4’s Free VOD service, 1,746 downloads through Virgin Media and additionally 3,133 downloads on iTunes which is transactional VOD. Another film to successful take advantage of VOD services is Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac. The on-demand services involved in the release included CHC, Sky Store, FilmFlex, BlinkBox and the BFI Player. CHC offered the film through, on Samsung Smart TV and BT TV which further widened the audience and provided a unique way of releasing the film. The theatrical release not creating the revenue predicted was not a problem for the film due to the increase in popularity of VOD

The internet has not only benefitted the distribution of films on new VOD platforms but it has also immensely helped the distribution of film for the traditional method of viewing films, the cinema. For many years film was made in huge reels of tape which was not only expensive but also highly inconvenient as the amount of screens showing the film could only match the amount of film reels the company had made. Film was also very delicate and had a expiry date in which the films quality would stoop so low that it became useless. However.  The internet has now completely changed the traditional methods of distributing films as now films can be transferred on protected files and sent around the world meaning there is there a larger audience to watch the film due to multiple screens being able to run it. Distributing the films via the internet also mean the quality of films has increased as when using film, different reels would have to be inserted which would occasionally alter the continuity of the film. All the problems that came with film tape disappeared and had a hugely positive effect on the way we watched films.

However, there has been some negatives with the inclusion of the internet in distributing the film from studio to cinema and that being Piracy. Although the protected files film companies use to distribute the film over the internet are highly protected, hackers are always finding new ways to access the files illegally. Piracy has now turned into an epidemic with almost 30% of Britons watching movies illegally online or buying counterfeit DVDs, costing the industry £500m a year. An example of this is The Wolf of Wall Street, In 2014 more than 30 million people individually downloaded the film illegally using Torrent software this year. It is because of piracy that The Wolf of Wall Street only made $17 million despite it being nominated for a numerous amount of awards

In conclusion the internet has played a immensely significant role in changing how films are marketed and exchanged . It has acted as a means in the creation of many services such as social media, VoD services and Illegal websites. The internet has also contributed to the improved efficiency and security to the marketing of films and how they are exchanged from the creators to the distributors. For better or for worse the internet has forever changed how we can access films and how we hear about films and it will continue doing so as it is forever developing and improving.


include lars von trier theatrical release is less important -VOD money +important


Case Study: Ricky Gervais Projects

David Brent: Life on the Road

David Brent: Life on the Road’ is a 2016 British mockumentary comedy film staring Ricky Gervais who also wrote and directed the feature film. The film follows one of Gervais’ most recognisable characters: David Brent from the UK TV series ‘The Office’. David Brent now has a film crew who shadows him up and down the country as he lives his dream of becoming a rock star. The film was financed by Entertainment one and BBC films.

Released in cinemas on the 19th of August 2016, the film was shown in the Uk, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand by the distribution company Entertainment One and in the US the film was set to be distributed by Open Road Films. However this then changed as the US release then varied from traditional release as Netflix bought the film and agreed to distribute it off of its platform to every country other than the ones where it was released in cinemas.

On the 17th of January Netflix brought out its first official teaser of the film before releasing it on the 10th of February, While in the uk the process of releasing the film was more delayed as  the first teaser trailer was released On 7th of April 2016 and the film was not fully released till the 19th of August 2016.

Ricky Gervais was happy with the deal he had with Netflix as on top of making $5.5 million dollars at the box office, he also released his film on the largest VOD service which has over 86 million members and can be used in 190 different countries.

Special Correspondents

Special Correspondents is a 2016 British-Canadian-American satirical comedy film written, directed by and starring Ricky Gervais. The film is a remake of the 2009 French comedy Envoyés très spéciaux and is about how Two radio journalists fake their own kidnappings in South America.

In November 2014, it was reported that Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions had purchased the rights to the film for territories including the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Latin America. In April 2015, it was announced that Netflix had pre-bought the global distribution rights to the film for roughly $12 million. On the 23rd of March 2016 Ricky Gervais himself released the first trailer to his 12.3 million followers on twitter. The film then had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on 22 April 2016 and was released worldwide by Netflix on 29 April 2016.

Key Terminology

  • Horizontal Integration– How big companies control their own processes and no other companies that aren’t under their influence own any part of the product.
  • Vertical integration-Also known as the partnership model, this is where each process is made by a separate entity.
  • Theatrical/Non-Theatrical exhibition– Whether the film is shown/not shown in a theatre.
  • Guerilla Filmmaking– Refers to a form of independent filmmaking characterised by low budgets, skeleton crews, and simple props using whatever is available Technological convergence.
  • Synergy– Co-operation of two or more organisations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.
  • Symbiosis– Two companies working together typically to the advantage of both.
  • Technological convergence– The tendency that as technology changes, different technological system sometimes evolve toward performing similar tasks.
  • Technological disruption-An innovation that disrupts current markets and creates a new market and new value network.
  • Media ownership– Process of owning a form of media
  • Media conglomerates– Mega companies that control the film studious
  • Concentration of ownership– Process whereby progressively fewer individuals or organisations control increasing shares of the mass media.
  • Targeting/Un-Targeting marketing– Whether the product is targeted/not targeted to a specific audience.
  • Cross media ownership– Ownership of multiple media businesses by a person or corporation.
  • “The Big 6”Screen Shot 2017-02-27 at 12.13.57.png
  • Distribution– Action of sharing the media product to a vast audience
  • Exhibition– Action of showing the media product to a vast audience.
  • “Lions gate 20”– The idea of only spending 20 million on marketing and advertising, popularised by lions gate.