We generally call ‘Media’ the means by which some content (information) is created and delivered to an audience. The organizations (e.g. firms, government) and individuals (e.g. artists, consumers) who engage in this process constitute the Media industry. The media industry is broad and diverse and it is really more appropriate to talk about different media industries depending on the nature of content (e.g. data vs. entertainment), the nature of end-users (e.g. businesses vs. individuals), key technologies involved in creating, storing and distributing content (e.g. a theater, a cable network or the Internet). Over time, practical considerations and convention have delineated traditional media industries such as “the publishing industry”, “the television industry” or “the gaming industry” even though the boundaries among these are often blurred and arguably more so as a result of recent technological developments. Despite their diversity, media industries do share a few common characteristics in terms of the economics that drives industry dynamics. These include certain aspects of consumer behavior, direct and indirect network effects, certain regulatory aspects specific to these industries, etc.
The purpose of this course is to provide an overview of the various media industries, highlight the common characteristics mentioned above and familiarize students with the key drivers of industry dynamics. Specifically, the course has three distinct objectives. First, it intends to survey the media industries to make sure that students have a broad understanding of the various media sectors. Second, it intends to provide students with relevant experience in media industry analysis. This experience is important for other elective classes offered by the Media Program, which are often based on company projects in specific media sectors. Finally, it intends to discuss the fundamental drivers of the media industry in terms of consumer psychology/behavior, key economic drivers and also relevant historical background. The foundations course should be the starting point for students who intend to follow other media elective classes. While it is not strictly required, it is strongly recommended to students taking other media electives.