With consumers demanding a constant stream of high-quality content, media companies are investing in digital technologies and a workforce that allows them to compete in this innovative and fast-moving sector
What areas can I work in?
Employment opportunities can be grouped into:
- business-to-business (B2B) media
- digital marketing
- interactive media
- special effects
- technical production
- video games
- web design.
As with most other sectors, you can work for larger media and internet companies in other business areas - for example, finance, information technology (IT), marketing and human resources (HR). You could also explore digital marketing.
If you're looking to study the subject, search postgraduate courses in media production.
Who are the main graduate employers?
Examples of employers in the media sector include:
- DMGT (The Daily Mail)
- Guardian Media Group (The Guardian)
- The Independent
- News UK (The Sun and The Times)
- PA Media
- Reach (Daily Mirror, Daily Express, Daily Star, OK!)
- Telegraph Media Group (The Daily Telegraph)
- Thomson Reuters.
Film and television production
- Aardman Animations
- Archery Pictures
- Baby Cow Productions
- DNA Films
- Ealing Studios
- Endemol Shine UK
- EON Productions
- Fremantle Media (TalkBack)
- Hat Trick Productions
- Pinewood Studios
- Raw TV
- Real SFX
- Tiger Aspect Productions
- Wall to Wall
- Working Title Films
- ZigZag Productions.
- Anspear (formerly Pearson Publishing)
- Bauer Media Group
- Bloomsbury Publishing
- Faber and Faber
- Future plc
- HarperCollins UK
- Hachette UK (Hodder & Stoughton)
- Hearst Magazines UK
- Oxford University Press
- Penguin Random House.
- Electronic Arts (EA)
- Rockstar Games
- Sports Interactive
- Amazon Prime Video
- British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
- Channel 4
- Global (Classic FM, Heart, Smooth and LBC)
- Sky UK
- Virgin Media
- Warner Bros TV Productions UK
- Wireless Group (talkSPORT, Virgin Radio).
What's it like working in the sector?
You can expect:
- freelance work and short contracts to be commonplace
- long and unsociable hours
- opportunities to work away from home or abroad, such as when filming on location or covering foreign affairs as a journalist
- an average graduate starting salary of £32,500 at major employers (according to High Fliers' The Graduate Market in 2021 report), but for salaries to vary considerably.
To find out more about typical salaries and working conditions in your chosen career, see media job profiles.
What are the key issues in the media industry?
This sector can be a notoriously difficult one to enter. The High Fliers report noted that graduate vacancies with media organisations featuring within The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers (including the BBC, Apple, Amazon, Bloomberg, Penguin Random House, Sky and Virgin Media) has fallen by nearly a fifth when comparing the number of graduate vacancies in 2019 to those available in 2021.
Over the past few years, the sector has had to deal with a historical shift. According to the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA), digital media spending on music, video and games has grown by 38% since 2016 - with far less spent on 'traditional' media such as books, magazines and newspapers.
More people are signing up to subscription services, with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ driving video sales to nearly £3billion in 2020, as more people stayed at home.
ERA chief executive Kim Bayley says, 'The entertainment market was already growing without coronavirus, but with much of the leisure sector shuttered due to lockdown, music, video and games were in the right place at the right time.'
Video gaming is the entertainment industry's biggest income generator, increasing by nearly a fifth (18%) in a year - rising to £4.43billion in 2020. While the smartphone is the most popular device for gamers - used by over a third (35%) - the releases of new Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox games consoles will only serve to boost video game sales even further in 2021.
Journalism still remains a popular career choice, but with newsrooms shrinking following the decline of print publications, and the challenge of making money from online news, opportunities are fewer than before. You'll need to demonstrate your commitment by getting plenty of work experience. Developing a range of skills - such as being able to work with video, data and social media - is essential for the modern journalist.
It's still unclear whether the UK leaving the European Union (EU) will affect the sector significantly. The country will not be participating in the next Creative Europe 2021-2027 funding programme, due to start in spring 2021. Since 2014, the EU's scheme has provided the UK with around £48million, with a large proportion going to the UK film industry.
Despite this, the government has confirmed that a new Global Screen Fund will be set up in April 2021, with £7m set aside to support UK independent screen content as it seeks to compete internationally.
With all cinemas in the UK and Ireland closed by the end of March due to coronavirus restrictions, statistics released by the British Film Institute (BFI) revealed that the box office total for all 2020 film releases was £247million, down by 81% on 2019.
However, UK film and high-end TV production spend still managed to reach £2.84billion, just a 21% decrease on the previous year. The UK film industry was involved with major international productions such as 1917 and The Gentlemen - as well as the home-grown film Emma. It was also involved with blockbusters rescheduled for release in 2021, including the James Bond film No Time To Die, Black Widow and Top Gun Maverick.
With its highly regarded global reputation, coupled with a consistently strong independent sector, the UK film industry is still a vibrant and exciting place to work. While the future of the sector is uncertain, it still continues to thrive and provide rewarding careers for passionate, creative-minded individuals.
Are there any skills shortages?
The Annual ScreenSkills Assessment 2019 highlighted skills shortages in the TV and film industries, with line producers, first assistant directors, series producers, storyboard artists, animators, coders and those with expertise in gaming and VFX needed to fill these gaps.
According to the Freelance survey April 2020 by ScreenSkills, freelancers make up nearly a third of those employed in the screen industries, so this shows how important it is to keep your specific media skills up to date.
Find out more
- Consider media apprenticeships.
- Discover our 5 tips for getting media experience.
- Explore digital careers in the marketing sector.