Due to lower cost and accessibility, filmmakers have more freedom of production in home, business and in entertainment. To be successful, filmmakers must have a clear understanding of who their target audience is and what would compel them to watch that specific production. In order to successfully communicate their message, many factors must be considered. The audience analysis consists of choice of medium, size of audience, budget justification, audience expectations, and choice of medium format. Audience demographics affects how they receive and decode the message. Significant factors to consider in audience demographics are age, gender, income, education, religion, culture, and language. Market research is used to identify and target the most receptive audience.
Many advancements have been made to the quality of production. More avenues for distribution have developed over the last 10 years. Production used to rely solely on analog technology. With the advent of digital technologies, both have evolved to work together, as every electronic signal begins as an analog signal and ends as an analog signal, because the human eye cannot decode a digital signal.
Distribution falls into one of the “The Big Ten” forms: AM-FM, HD-Radio, Mobile, Satellite, Terrestrial TV, Cable, Disk, Internet, Games, and Motion Pictures. As of 2009, all broadcast stations are now transmitted by casting a digital signal. Specific digital receivers are required or a converter box can be used to transmit the signal from the antenna and to the receiver.
Producers need to be well versed in the economics of production and distribution. Commercial broadcasters sell slots to advertisers to target their audience. Re-runs of previous network programs are referred to as syndicated programming. Public Broadcasting relies on donations from viewers and sponsorships from corporations and foundations. The best market for small, independent productions is on cable television. However, cable programming typically prefers to show a continuing series in order to hold audience attention. Airing an independent production is a risk, while audiences may be more familiar with a series. Commercials fill the breaks between content to advertise products, names, and services to consumers. Most national commercials are coordinated for advertising agencies shot by production specialists and shot on 35mm film. Local commercials are produced on a much smaller scale via independent production agencies. Public Service Announcements are broadcast free of charge and aim to spread a message to the public, as opposed to selling them a product.
Due to the high cost of distributing a feature film (average $80 million), the distribution of major films is consolidated to a few, large distributors: Paramount, Warner Bros., MGM, United Artists, Columbia, Sony, Universal and Twentieth Century Fox. Smaller, independent distribution agencies do not have all the resources of their larger counterparts.
Some government or educational organizations may choose to keep their production In- house and produce content on their own. They use the most streamline and economical methods to keep costs low to communicate with their target audience of employees or students.