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Becky: Hello! And welcome back to EnglishClass101.com. This is Culture Class, Season 3, Lesson 13 - The Top 5 Most Powerful Companies in Entertainment. I’m Becky.
Eric: And I’m Eric. Now, there are a few surprises on this list. At least, they were surprises to us when we were researching this lesson.
Becky: That's right! We'll be covering some big companies like Fox and Universal, but there is probably at least one on this list you didn't expect.
Eric: Let’s get right into it!
Becky: Number 5 in our Top 5 Most Powerful Companies in Entertainment is 20th Century Fox.
Eric: This is one of the six major American film studios, and is also one of the oldest.
Becky: That’s right. 20th Century Fox started in 1935 and has produced movies, music, and TV shows for over 75 years.
Eric: They’ve had their share of difficulties and nearly went bankrupt a few times, but they’ve also had some of the most successful movie launches of all time including...
Becky: Star Wars, Die Hard, Planet of the Apes, Home Alone, and X-Men. They’ve also had considerable success with TV shows including...
Eric: M*A*S*H, The X-files, The Simpsons, Family Guy, and 24.
Becky: Something that I found interesting during our research is that the parent company of 20th Century Fox is News Corporation, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch.
Eric: That’s the same company that owns Fox News.
Becky: I guess I could have put that together - FOX News...20th Century FOX but I just never did.
Eric: It’s that connection that makes 20th Century Fox so powerful. Being a subsidiary of News Corporation, they have direct connections to TV channels, newspapers, and alternative advertisers through News Corporation.
Becky: They’ve also introduced many innovations to the entertainment industry. For example, watching movies on TV was an idea that came from 20th Century Fox.
Eric: Right and the creation of the 24 hour news station. Some people think is a good way to keep people informed and others think you have to sacrifice quality for speed. We could go on, but we have four more companies to look at. Who’s next?
Becky: Number 4 of our Top 5 Most Powerful Companies in Entertainment is Sony.
Eric: We should point out that Sony is actually a Japanese company but their US subsidiaries are incredibly powerful, which is why they’re on this list.
Becky: Now, Sony is much more than just an entertainment company. In fact, they could easily be classified as a manufacturing company because they’re the third largest television manufacturer in the world.
Eric: Sony primarily functions through four main industries, which are electronics, music, film, and finances. Their electronics division, however, also controls computer gaming, which is another form of entertainment.
Becky: So, in all, Sony produces, records, and sells music, movies, and video games - which are the main forms of modern entertainment. They also built the equipment used to enjoy those forms of entertainment, like the actual TV and computer.
Eric: So Sony is fantastically powerful because it’s connected and involved with every aspect and form of modern entertainment.
Becky: Three of the most famous properties that Sony produces are the Men in Black movie franchise, the Spiderman movies, and the television game show Jeopardy!
Eric: However, their major influence is in music. Sony Music Entertainment is the world’s second largest recorded music company.
Becky: That just means they record, produce, and market music.
Eric: Right. They own the rights to the Beatles and Michael Jackson, and many other famous entertainers.
Becky: Sony also makes the Sony Playstation, which is one of the most popular video game consoles in the world.
Eric: The Playstation also doubles as a Blu-ray player and was what solidified Blu-ray as the high-definition standard during the early 2000s.
Becky: Okay, so who’s next on our list?
Eric: Next on our list of the Top 5 Most Powerful Companies in Entertainment is NBCUniversal.
Becky: NBC was a major television company and Universal was a major film studio in the USA. They merged to form NBCUniversal.
Eric: Several lessons ago, we mentioned that General Electric or GE seemed to be involved in everything.
Becky: GE was one of the largest stockholders in NBC before the merger, owning over 51% of the company.
Eric: A few years later, a US cable company called Comcast made a deal with GE to purchase 51% of the company. Now, GE owns 49% and Comcast owns 51%
Becky: So not only does NBCUniversal have connections to manufacturing through GE and cable hardware through Comcast, but it also has connections to film studios through Universal Studios, cable channels through its NBCUniversal cable, sports through NBC Sports Group, news through NBCUniversal News Group, and...a bunch of other stuff.
Eric: It’s a huge company. It also has something our previous companies don’t: theme parks.
Becky: That’s right. NBCUniversal has 4 theme parks; one in Hollywood, one in Orlando, Florida, one in Japan, and one in Singapore.
Eric: They are also one of the main partners in a joint-venture that created Hulu.com, which is a website that provides on demand TV shows and movies supported by commercials.
Becky: Okay, so now that we are officially wowed by NBCUniversal, let’s take a look at our next company.
Eric: Number 2 in our Top 5 Most Powerful Companies in Entertainment is DreamWorks.
Becky: DreamWorks in an interesting company. Compared to companies like NBCUniversal, DreamWorks is a small, poor company.
Eric: However, DreamWorks is very influential in the movie business. Even though they don’t produce as many movies as some of the larger studios, DreamWorks’ movies have frequently won Academy Awards for best film.
Becky: Probably the main reason for this is that DreamWorks was founded by three of Hollywood’s best producers and collaborators – Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen.
Eric: These three men were able to create famous movies like American Beauty, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, and the Shrek franchise.
Becky: They tried their hand at selling music and a number of other things, but only their movies were consistently profitable.
Eric: Again, DreamWorks isn’t powerful because it’s rich or connected to hundreds of other companies through their parent company. They’re powerful because even without those things, they can still produce movies that compete with and often beat those bigger corporations and studios.
Becky: That’s right. In fact, for most people, DreamWorks is the only real competitor with Disney/Pixar for animation films.
Eric: Which brings us to our number 1!
Becky: Number 1 of our Top 5 Most Powerful Companies in Entertainment is Disney.
Eric: The Walt Disney Company is the largest mass multimedia corporation in the world in terms of revenue. They’ve made at least a billion dollars in profit every year since 1991. It’s estimated that the Walt Disney Company made over 12 billion dollars in net profit in 2012 alone.
Becky: In other words, Disney makes more money than any other entertainment company.
Eric: Disney started way back in 1923 and is one of the oldest entertainment companies in the world. But their big break came in the 1930s with Mickey Mouse.
Becky: Mickey Mouse was one of the original cartoon characters created by Walt Disney, the founder of the Walt Disney company along with his brother Roy.
Eric: Today, the Disney corporation owns 14 theme parks around the world, several television networks and channels, and more copyrights than we could count.
Becky: It’s also a great company to work for as they have high employee satisfaction. There was even a time when a particular CEO started taking Disney in a direction that many of the stockholders didn’t like.
Eric: So over 45% of the stockholders voted him out and he no longer works at Disney. That kind of stockholder involvement is very rare.
Becky: And it just goes to show that the Disney legacy is something both the general public and Disney’s stockholders take very seriously.
Eric: I remember standing in line to watch the the movie Wall-E and heard someone behind me say, “Disney is really falling behind this Pixar company. They’d better get it in gear.”
Becky: Oh really?
Eric: Yeah. I kind of chuckled because apparently that person didn’t know that Disney had purchased Pixar several years before.
Becky: As if the huge Disney logo at the beginning of every Pixar movie wasn’t enough!
Eric: Exactly. But it’s understandable, since the two companies had a huge rivalry before the buy-out. They worked together and competed against each other often. And not everybody has the time to keep track of which mass multimedia company owns which other mass multimedia corporation.
Becky: That’s true! I always forget that all of the Marvel movies are actually Disney movies since Disney owns the rights for producing all of the Marvel films.
Eric: That’s right. Disney makes money not only off of their animated movies for kids but also off The Avengers and Pirates of the Caribbean for adults.
Becky: It’s a pretty amazing company.
Eric: So, did you expect to see all of those companies? Disney had to be on the list. So, no surprises there.
Becky: But were you expecting Sony? I certainly wasn't.
Eric: Okay, that’s all for this lesson.
Becky: Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time!
Eric: Bye!

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Which company do you like the most?