Industry Outlook

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment in television broadcasting is expected to show little change or decline in some professions through 2028. For example, reporters, correspondents, and news analysts will have a decline in employment. Factors expected to contribute to this slowed growth rate include consolidation of stations under large networks, which allows networks to share programming and make better use of workers. New computerized technologies require less specialized training for their operation, reducing the need for certain types of workers, particularly those in editing, recording, and graphics creation. Competition from cable systems, satellite, streaming, and other pay television services, and from widespread use of the Internet will also contribute to the slower growth in employment. Some broadcasting jobs will fare better than others, though: for instance, broadcast and sound engineering technicians are projected to have faster than average employment growth through 2028. TV and radio stations, as well as businesses and schools are buying new equipment to improve their video and audio capabilities.

The coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) caused widespread lock-downs in the U.S., as well as throughout the world, which resulted in an increase in TV and connected TV (CTV) viewership. As these lock-downs started to ease in some areas, there was a slight drop in TV viewership, but CTV usage continues to be above pre-COVID-19 levels. A Nielsen report explains that CTV is gaining in popularity because it "offers consumers an array of content options, ranging from streaming apps to gaming to OTT [over-the-top] channels." Even with more people being allowed to go outside again, CTV usage remained high, and this trend was expected to continue going forward.

The television broadcasting industry was projected to have an 11.5 percent drop in revenue in 2020, due to the delays and cancellations in content production and reduced consumer sentiment. The research group IBISWorld projects a rebound for the TV industry, however, due to the accelerated rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in 2021 and economic recovery. According to the report, "digital distribution will likely remain an important component of the industry's strategy as consumers' relationship to TV content continues to evolve." Post pandemic, TV broadcasters are also expected to fare better than other legacy media industries due to the dominance of large media companies with larger budgets and more resources. As of February 2021, there were 2,009 TV broadcasting businesses in the U.S., with total employment of 108,934 people. Overall the global media and entertainment market, including the television industry, is expected to have compound annual growth of 13 percent from 2021 through 2026, according to a Research and Markets report.

The bulk of television industry revenues come from advertising. MarketShare reports that television continues to be the most effective medium for major advertisers. Advertising is driven by the state of the economy, however, and revenues typically decline during economic slowdowns and recessions and pick up when the economy improves. For example, after the 2007–2009 recession, the Television Bureau of Advertising reported that advertising expenditures increased by nearly 8 percent in 2012 compared to the same period in 2011, to a total of $68.7 billion. Local TV advertising revenue dropped by nearly 16 percent in 2019 compared to 2018, and further decline is predicted in the next two years, according to a report by MediaPost. The economic slowdown due to COVID-19 is projected to cause a 2.4 percent drop in advertising revenue in 2020, and a 14.5 percent drop in 2021. As of June 2020, the television broadcasting industry generated $66 billion in revenue, and the companies with the largest market share were NBCUniversal, The Walt Disney Company, Fox Corporation, Sinclair Broadcast Group, and CBS Corporation.

The TV industry is being greatly affected by developments in digital programming. The cost of a high-definition television (HDTV) set, capable of providing viewers with high-quality sound and image, has decreased over the years, enabling more people to afford them. Because of the Federal Communications Commission mandate that all stations broadcast in digital format as of 2009, broadcasters had to invest in new recording and transmission equipment, and some consumers had to either buy a new television set or a set-top box that converts digital signals to analog signals.

Interactive television is changing the television industry. In the mid-1990s, many experts predicted that interactive TV would never become popular, but analysts are now recognizing that interactive TV has huge profit potential. Television viewers can now play along with game shows, express opinions on social issues during broadcasts, or order custom programming that can be saved for later viewing. The most popular interactive feature, though, is streaming video, which allows subscribers to view movies and television selected from a large library of programs on demand. Television broadcasters are expected to produce more online content, as well as make more content available for online consumption, in the coming years.

As the television broadcasting industry continues to evolve with further innovations in digital, interactive, and streaming television, job roles and education and training qualifications will also change. Behind-the-scenes television industry workers will need to be on the cutting edge of digital and Internet technology to succeed.