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MBA Programs In Media On Demand As Tech Powers Job Growth

As the rise of online content drives commercial prospects and MBA jobs, business schools are seeing growth in applications to their media industry programs.

Tue May 19 2015

Sweeping changes to the business of media and entertainment have given rise to digital disruptors which have shaken up careers and spurred growth in new job opportunities.

A number of business school courses have cropped up to supply the talent needed to drive this evolution. From marketing to advertising and from content to disruption, all sections of the creative economy are being reshaped by digital technologies.

This fundamental shift is disrupting traditional media companies, says Samuel Craig, director of NYU Stern’s Entertainment, Media and Technology MBA track. “Players such as Netflix, Amazon and Apple have changed the landscape forever and have taken a large piece of the entertainment pie,” he says.

Stern’s course is one of a number built into MBA programs to service the fragmented media market. Others include Columbia Business School’s Media and Technology Program and the MBA track in arts and media administration at Schulich School of Business.

Cardiff Business School in the UK offers a dedicated MBA in Media Management. The program has seen year-on-year increases in applications, says Tim Holmes, senior lecturer at Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies.

Other programs have seen a similar surge in applications. Henley Business School’s MBA for Music & Creative Industries has been one of the most popular. Helen Gammons, program director, is expecting her biggest class intake next year. She says the turbulence in the media industry may be a contributing factor.

Henley is also developing a non-qualification program that Helen intends to co-market with a significant creative sector media organisation, she adds, which is expected to run in 2016.

Career prospects are a driver for application growth. The rise of online content is powering up commercial prospects, says Cardiff's Tim. “It will certainly widen media employment opportunities.” 

He says that the TV and music industries are shifting from producer-led command-and-control economies to consumer-led convenience economies.

“It is simply imperative now that business school graduates understand these communication opportunities,” says Professor John Fortunato, chair for media management at Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business, which offers a concentration in communications and media management within its MBA.

For many media programs, data analytics is a key theme. “Data and analytics are a huge part of where MBAs can fit into the media industry and bring huge value,” says Stephen Pidgeon, associate director for career development at Tuck School of Business.

He believes career prospects are strong for MBAs across the media industry. “We are seeing strong demand for MBA students in a wide variety of screen-based media sectors – including film and television studios, transmission and, increasingly, games companies,” he says.

New online players like Hulu, Netflix, HBO and Sling are also recruiting MBAs, he suggests. “Media is more and more about bringing analytics and creativity together, and using the analysis to drive decisions. This is an area where MBA students are particularly well set to succeed.”

Eric Young, assistant dean for the MBA Career Centre at Georgetown McDonough School of Business, says media recruiting is on a smaller scale compared with consultancy firms or banks. But he adds MBAs are particularly sought out for product manager roles in digital and content areas.

“Some MBAs are hired to help support content [for] sports teams or leagues, or into corporate finance roles. But more are hired to support the broader distribution channels, partnerships and relationships,” he says.

What these employers really seek, Eric adds, are people who are passionate about media, can work cross-functionally, who are comfortable with technology and data, and can work in a fast-paced and fast-changing environment. “MBAs are often the right candidates for these exciting opportunities.”