Report: Los Angeles still owns film and TV, despite rival markets

Los Angeles's share of the domestic film and TV economy shrank last year amid devastating industry struggles, but it remains by far the most powerful entertainment player in the United States.

According to the latest Otis College Report on the Creative Economy, released Thursday, the City of Angels posted a 27% share of domestic film and TV employment in 2023 — down 8% from 2022, but still continues to be far ahead of its biggest competitor, New York. which made up 12% of the entertainment staff.

Other American manufacturing centers lagged far behind Los Angeles. Each of them claimed 2% of the entertainment pie last year: Atlanta, Dallas, San Francisco, Chicago and Miami; while Nashville, Tennessee, Austin, Texas and Washington, DC each hovered at 1% – largely in line with where they were a decade ago.

Last year, the entertainment industry was hobbled by six months of overlapping strikes by the Writers Guild of America and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Additionally, the Otis report found that Los Angeles County workers earned 50% of all wages in the domestic film and TV industry last year.

With the exception of New York – long a production stronghold – film and TV activity outside of Los Angeles has been fairly evenly spread across other parts of the country, leading Otis College to conclude that there is no “New Hollywood” on the horizon .

The new report traces the pivotal decade from 2013 – when Netflix launched the streaming revolution with the release of “House of Cards” – to early 2024, immediately following the Hollywood writers' and actors' strikes.

“Los Angeles remains the pinnacle of the entertainment industry, but the industry itself is undergoing once-in-a-generation changes,” Patrick Adler, principal at Westwood Economics and Planning Associates, said in a statement.

“It is less dependent on film and television studios, more focused on online content creation, live events and gaming, and also much more technical and managerial than ever. What it means to work in Hollywood is very different today than it was ten years ago.”

According to the study, film and TV currently comprise approximately 52% of the entertainment sector in Los Angeles County, down 12% from 2013. Employment levels include film, TV, sound, broadcasting and print media – all labeled as “traditional” entertainment areas by Otis – have also fallen by about 9% between 2013 and 2024.

The declining prominence of film and television coincides with a decline in production, which the report says is still 9% lower than before the strike. Film and TV employment in Los Angeles County is down 19% from before the work stoppages, leaving thousands of writers, crew and other entertainment workers in a state of financial and emotional distress.

Otis College previously reported that entertainment industry employment in the Los Angeles area fell 17% during the overlapping strikes by writers and actors.

Previous reporting by The Times illustrates that Los Angeles' manufacturing and employment crisis predates the strikes and can largely be attributed to an ongoing industry contraction due to studio overspending during the streaming wars.

As a result, film, TV, commercial and other production activity in the first quarter of 2024 was about 20% below the five-year average, according to FilmLA, a nonprofit that tracks on-location production in the Greater Los Angeles area.

Meanwhile, job growth in “modern” entertainment sectors – identified as software publishing, video games, social media, streaming, performing arts, live sports and “independent artists” – rose 53% between 2013 and 2024, Otis College reported.

The fastest growing corner of the province's entertainment industry is software publishing (including video games), which has increased by 149% over the past decade. Film, television and traditional publishing are the only sectors that have seen a decline.

The report also found that the number of college-educated workers in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles increased from 46% to 68% between 2000 and 2022.

Creative and management roles accounted for 59% of entertainment jobs in 2013, rising to 66% by 2022. Meanwhile, the number of manual occupations, such as transport, cleaning, grounds maintenance and construction, had decreased.

Additionally, the entertainment workforce has become more racially diverse over the past decade. The share of white workers in the creative industries declined between 2013 and 2022, while employment for all other racial groups increased, the report said.

“My hope is that the trends identified in this research and our ongoing Otis College Report on the Creative Economy will provide industry leaders and policymakers with insight into the needs of an evolving workforce,” said Charles Hirschhorn, president of Otis College, in a statement: “one that requires more training, investment and education than ever before.”

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