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What is TV distribution?

The distribution, selling and marketing of TV content is convoluted but it’s a side to the industry that attracts an intelligent, media-savvy workforce who share a passion for the content that they deliver. Most commercial TV production companies are owned by large media conglomerates. Mergers and acquisitions have brought many companies together under one large corporate umbrella. Distribution companies (made up of a number of departments) work in unison to acquire and deliver content to an audience. They may also be involved in pre-selling, finding co-production partners and deficit funding third party content.

Sourcing formats, programmes or scripts that will connect with an audience is a subtle art, and as the industry changes, so have the ways distributors have chosen to operate. TV broadcasters and content platforms screen/stream a varied amount and varied selection of content year on year - with output fluctuating depending on audience trends, viewing figures and acquisition budgets.

TV Distribution is a massive industry, expanding in all sorts of platforms and formats due to the invasion of web content providers such as Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) giants Netflix and Amazon Prime, and Ad-supported VOD (AVOD) providers such as All4, YouTube and Hulu. Due to these new ways of streaming content - the TV industry is experiencing a bit of a revolution - large numbers of on and off screen talent from the film industry are migrating to TV, proving that cinematic high production values and epic storylines can translate to the small screen(s).

GENRES THAT TV DISTRIBUTION PROFESSIONALS WORK WITH:

  • Animation

  • Advertising

  • Children’s TV

  • Documentary

  • Reality TV

  • Factual

  • Entertainment

  • Music TV

  • Comedy

  • Commercials

  • Drama

  • Sports/OB

  • Feature Film

​What are the entry level positions?

Major UK distributors, big broadcasters (BBC, C4, ITV, C5) and media groups like Endemol Shine and FremantleMedia have offices in the UK (based in London unsurprisingly) and abroad, all offering a selection of internships and assistant positions which are usually displayed on their websites, in the jobs and work experience sections.

The entry level positions for the TV Business are:

  • Office Runner

  • Office Assistant

  • Receptionist

  • Team PA

  • Exec PA

Areas of the industry these entry level jobs could lead into:

  • International Sales

  • UK Sales

  • Acquisitions and Rights

  • Legal and Business Affairs

  • Marketing and Publicity

  • Communications

  • Company Director

  • Technical Operations

  • International Distribution

  • Finance  

WHAT ARE THE CAREER PATHS IN DISTRIBUTION?

Effectively, the career path is whatever you want it to be when you have a 5+ years under your belt in sales or marketing. The first obvious progression from office intern/exec team PA is to work your way up to the position of sales assistant, sales support or junior acquisitions manager within the company you currently work for, or look for opportunities elsewhere. If you are working at a larger company that house legal or marketing departments you may be tempted to change discipline, as both departments have a lot to offer providing you have the relevant skill set behind you.

Working in sales can offer you another option however, as the skills and contacts you make could potentially take you anywhere in the TV industry. What you are bringing with you from the sales background is a solid knowledge of what it takes to makes a TV programme work, knowledge of the industry, contacts, industry experience, and a grounding in how to sell a concept without the camera kit even being penciled for the job.