Overview of Contemporary Television Industry
Most Helpful Review
This class is AWESOME! Take it if you can! The ONLY downside is that the class is from 7-10pm on a Thursday night.
Every class has 1 or 2 guests and they just talk and there's a break in between.
The T.A.'s have a sign up sheet most of the classes because attendance was like 10% of the grade.
The 2 group papers (8 pages and 4 pages) are relatively very easy and easily graded (he doesn't hand grades back until like week 9 but you can email him with questions and he LOVES to help).
The final was an in-class written paper (can be typed too) about ONE very broad question you choose from 5, about one of the books he assigns (so you really don't have to do/buy the books except for the ONE you choose). The class before the final he says the 5 different questions that will be in the exam.
From the three books, one is a super extra long academic essays one which i do not recommend even purchasing, and the other 2 are shorter and more exciting to read. Choose and buy ONLY ONE of the two books. The food network one is the best and the question from the final didn't even rely on the reading but reading it helps (the question was like DO YOU THINK THE FOOD NETWORK HAS A FUTURE IN THIS COMPETITIVE TV BUSINESS?) That was it...
Take this class, it is fun and an easy A, and take your laptop every class because you never know how boring the guest speaker is so a computer will be the only entertainment source you'll have for 3 hours.
The course will serve to examine the evolving economic structures and business practices in the contemporary television industry across a broad spectrum of content delivery services, programming genres, participating companies and contributing individuals.
Drawing upon the experiences and insights of distinguished industry professionals who will appear as guests and selected readings from academic, popular and trades sources, students will come to understand and appreciate the fundamental histories, change factors, pending issues and speculative projections that are shaping and re-shaping the contemporary television landscape.
In doing so, students will learn analytical skills useful for the study of any media marketplace and become more insightful and informed consumers of television content.
For students with career aspirations in the entertainment industry, the course seeks to both prepare and inspire them in pursuit of that goal. For students whose futures lie elsewhere, the course seeks to impart upon them analytical, organizational and creative tools and experiences that will enrich and reward them in any post-graduate, occupational or academic pursuit.
TA SECTIONAL SEMINARS
In a very late development, the Department has received University approval for the creation of a weekly Teaching Assistant-led “Sectional”, as a means of supporting and amplifying the lecture and reading content of the course and providing an additional resource for the various assignments. As this development came very close to the commencement of the quarter, details regarding its scheduling are TBD.
Throughout the course, guest speakers from the highest levels of their respective facet of the industry will share their expertise in all areas of television, such as studio operations, made-for- TV movies, television advertising sales, casting, executive producing and “showrunning”, research, reality and non-fiction programming, among many others. These appearances are designed to be both interactive and skewed towards those themes that are explored in our readings and lectures.
FTV 184B – Syllabus – Fall 2017
Speakers are subject to availability and may – and often do – change at the last minute owing to the unpredictable nature of the business.
Grading for this course consists of three elements: Class Participation, which includes regular attendance and thoughtful and productive contributions to class discussions, and two group projects—a Midterm Group Research Paper, and a Final Group Paper + Final Individual “Essay- ette”. The grade breakdown is as follows:
Class Participation 30%
Midterm Project (Parts 1 & 2) 50%
Please note the somewhat unconventional allocation for grade determination. The greatest value of this course is the information received via lectures and our industry guest appearances -- in particular, the latter. It is extremely important that students attend every session, particularly as the class meets only once a week. Yes, it is unusual that the Mid-term Project should count for so much more than the Final. The reason for that is that is, frankly, the Mid- term Project is more challenging and more work than the Final and that the Mid-term lays the necessary foundation for the Final Project.
Because of this unconventional allocation, the schedule for the Mid-term is shifted relative to the norm: The Mid-Term, Part 1 will be due on November 16th (Week 7). The Midterm, Part 2 will be due on November 30th (Week 9). The Final will be during the last regular class session, December 1st.
THERE IS NO CLASS ON NOVEMBER 23TH – HAPPY THANKSGIVING ONE AND ALL ASSIGNED READING
FTV 184B – Syllabus – Fall 2017
Lotz, Amanda D., "THE TELEVISION WILL BE REVOLUTIONIZED", New York: New York University Press, 2nd Edition, 2014 (selected excerpts only – which will be
Salkin, Allen, "FROM SCRATCH : INSIDE THE FOOD NETWORK", New York : Putnum, 2013 or revised edition, Berkeley Press, 2014.
As to the Salkin book, please plan on reading one chapter per week to remain current. This task should not be looked upon with trepidation; it’s a very readable and entertaining tale with
MIDTERM, PART 1: “THE PIVOT POINT OR ‘EXTREME MAKEOVER – NETWORK
Due Week 7 (November 16th, 2017)
As a means of considering a wide range of issues confronting contemporary broadcast and cable networks, student groups will be assigned a specific network that has a historic “pivot point” in its lifespan that redefined its place in the contemporary television landscape. Students will be asked to identify the “pivot point”, justify its selection and provide an explanation of some of the consequences of the pivot.
Students will work in groups of 2-3, and each group will profile a different network, both to be determined by random selection.
In providing both a guide and context for the identification of “the pivot”, the paper should include some reference to five basic areas of inquiry: Network Ownership and Financial Foundation, Programming Strategy, Marketing Strategy, Program Ownership and Financing, and Signature Show.
Please note: Not every one of these questions need be answered in detail in the paper, although most of them will. Consider the following as both a guide for your research as well as a prospective checklist for content.
The answer to many of these questions may change as the result of your designation of the respective “pivot point” for your network -- which is precisely the goal of the exercise many relevancies to the course content. I daresay that it might prove to be the most enjoyable reading assignment of any of your classes this quarter.
Wolff, Michael, “TELEVISION IS THE NEW TELEVISION: THE UNEXPECTED TRIUMPH OF OLD MEDIA IN THE DIGITAL AGE”, New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2015
A very au courant thesis from one of the wisest and wittiest of our contemporary media sages. Mr. Wolff’s tome will help initiate and provoke some of our most interesting discussions.
In addition, there will be various articles or book excerpts on a range of topics
handed out each week in class (or sent to the students via PDF).
1. Network Ownership and Financial Foundation
This area of inquiry should address, among others, such questions as:
a. Who owns the network? Is it part of a conglomerate? Is it a publicly traded company, and if so, how does its ownership affect the type of programming and pressures placed upon the network?
b. How does this network fit into the Owner’s overall business strategy?
c. What other television interests does the Owner have, and how do they impact the
d. Where in its lifespan is the network currently? Is it mature, or is it an emerging
startup venture? Is it transitioning into something new, with a new identity?
e. What is/are the revenue source(s) for the network? Advertising? Cable system
operator fees (aka, retransmission fees)? Subscription fees?
2. Programming Strategy
This area of inquiry should address the network’s programming objectives and the strategy it is currently using to achieve them. Such questions to pose might include:
a. What percentage of programming is original, as opposed to acquired? Is the percentage of original programming increasing?
b. What is the target audience these programs endeavor to reach? What is the age, gender, and ethnic breakdown for their audience? Does the programming attempt to evolve the demographic profile over time?
c. Is the network’s schedule consistent from night to night, or are there varied strategies employed on different nights?
3. Marketing Strategy
In the increasingly crowded and competitive television landscape, networks devote enormous resources towards marketing themselves and their programs. An understanding of a network’s marketing strategy is as critical to the success of a producer’s show as a programming strategy. This area of inquiry might touch upon such topics as:
a. Does the network have a “brand,” and if so, how would it be defined?
b. From your observations, what is the principal venue for the network’s marketing efforts? Do they use print media, broadcast media, outdoor (i.e. branding at sports
arenas, billboards), or on-air promotional spots—or a combination of these?
c. Does the network have an internet presence that is distinctive and complementary?
4. Program Ownership and Financing
A critical issue for networks and producers alike relates to the ownership and financing of original programs. This area of inquiry should address such questions as:
a. How are the shows financed? (Note: Instructor will assist in directing students to necessary reference source if this question proves frustrating)
b. Who owns the show after its network run? Does the producer have the right to distribute the show in other marketplaces, foreign or domestic? Do home video and Video On-Demand services factor into the equation?
c. Is the production infrastructure handled in-house at the network or by an outside studio or production company?
5. Signature Show
Many networks became household names owing to the prominence of one “signature” show with which the network is closely associated. These shows may help define the “brand” of the network. Identify a show, either scripted or unscripted, that would be representative of the network’s programming strategy, i.e., a “Signature Show” that best illustrates the “Pivot Point”.
MIDTERM, PART 2
3-4 Page Paper Due Week 9 (November 30th, 2017)
Working in the same groups as for the Midterm, prepare a short paper that provides a more detailed examination of the show used to illustrate the “Pivot Point”
(For those familiar with the series Biography, first made famous on the old A&E Network, this assignment can be likened to researching the “biography” of a television show.)
Using 3-4 pages, discuss the following questions:
a. Where did the show come from?
b. How did it come into being?
c. Who thought of it? Who are the producers?
d. Is this a pre-existing show or created/developed originally?
e. Who directed the pilot? Who wrote the pilot?
f. What does the show cost to produce?
g. How frequently do episodes air? How many comprise a season?
h. How long has the show been on air? How has it evolved over time, both in the
quality of the storytelling and of the creative arts (cinematography, production design, lighting, etc.)?
FINAL(Inclass. Dependingonhowtheindustryguestscheduleplaysout,theFinalwillbe given either on Week 10, December 7 – Pearl Harbor Day – or during Finals week proper, on December 14).
Each student will be assigned a relatively brief (two to three pages) essay that addresses a question derived from one statement in the Amanda Lotz or Michael Wolff assigned textbook. Students will be assigned different questions, which can come from any part of the assignedreading. The essay can be handwritten or typed and emailed in class. P.S. By the end of the class you will all know much more than is necessary to write this little piece.