Television is a medium used to disseminate information, news, and entertainment that includes moving pictures and sound. About 2,900 television broadcasting and cable and subscription programming establishments were active in the United States in 2020, generating total annual revenue of $140 billion, according to the market research group First Research. About 96 percent of U.S. households owned televisions in 2019. Television is the most popular mass media in the U.S. and many other parts of the world. Today major news events from anywhere in the world are often broadcast globally, allowing people to follow occurrences in other countries and witness catastrophes and successes.
In the United States, local television stations are affiliated with one of the national networks (such as FOX, ABC, CBS, and NBC). This means the local station has a contract with the network to allow it to broadcast a large amount of its programming in addition to locally produced programming, such as local news shows. Most scripted programming, reality shows, and game shows, all of which can be expensive to produce, are provided by networks. These stations broadcast their signal for free.
In contrast, cable networks provide programming only to paid subscribers. Many cable channels specialize in areas of interest, such as comedy, food, or sports. Others offer original programming very different from what airs on broadcast networks. In 2019, there were about 46.7 million cable television subscribers in the United States, down from the 49 million subscribers in 2015. Cable companies continue to lose ground as more viewers switch to streaming video available through the Internet. Broadband subscribers, on the other hand, continue to grow, from more than 55 million in 2015, to more than 101 million in 2019. Providers, such as Netflix and Hulu, offer their subscribers programs on-demand. This mainly includes movies and television shows already released through other channels, but original programming, for example Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale and Netflix's Stranger Things, has become increasingly popular.
Television companies and networks employ people who work onscreen and behind the camera. Actors, news anchors, talk show hosts, sportscasters, musicians, and others all appear in programming. Off camera, producers, directors, writers, broadcast engineers, camera operators, editors, marketing professionals, executives, advertising sales workers, and many others keep the industry moving. Big stations in metropolitan centers may employ several hundred people, while a station in a small city may employ as few as 35.
The television broadcasting industry is expected to experience a decline in revenue in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The economic slowdown reduced advertisers' budgets and lock-downs delayed or permanently shut down television productions of new content. As the economy rebounds and the pandemic ends, some growth in the television industry will resume in the coming years. Consolidation of stations under large networks; new technologies that require less specialized training to operate; and competition from cable systems, satellite, and streaming video will all influence the rate of growth and the type of jobs available. Television is evolving as it races to keep pace with new technology, and workers who remain savvy about digital devices and platforms will experience the most success.
- Art Directors
- Audio Recording Engineers
- Broadcast Engineers
- Camera Operators
- Cinematographers and Directors of Photography
- Composers and Arrangers
- Costume Designers
- Film and Television Directors
- Film and Television Editors
- Film and Television Extras
- Film and Television Producers
- Film and Video Librarians
- Graphic Designers
- Lighting Technicians
- Makeup Artists
- Music Video Directors and Producers
- Music Video Editors
- News Anchors
- Political Reporters
- Production Assistants
- Production Designers and Art Directors
- Radio and Television Announcers
- Radio and Television Program Directors
- Real-Time Captioners
- Special and Visual Effects Technicians
- Sports Broadcasters and Announcers
- Stunt Performers
- Talent Agents and Scouts