Immersive Field Course: Los Angeles; Hollywood: Distribution and Marketing Challenges in a Digital World - Harvard Business School MBA Program

Immersive Field Course: Los Angeles; Hollywood: Distribution and Marketing Challenges in a Digital World

Course Number 6021

Senior Lecturer Henry W. McGee
Seven on-campus sessions: Wednesday afternoons from 3:30 - 5:30 pm on September 4, September 11, September 18, October 2, October 16, October 30, and November 20
Dates: Arrival on Sunday, January 5--the program starts at 8:00 am on Monday, January 6. The program concludes at 9:00 pm on Tuesday, January 14 and the students will depart LA on Wednesday, January 15.
Program fee & travel costs: See details on Course Credit and Fees
Credits: 3.0
Enrollment: 50

Career Focus

This course will provide students interested in careers in the film and television industry with an immersive understanding of the current marketing and distribution challenges faced by Hollywood. Driven by the twin forces of digitalization and globalization, the industry is undergoing rapid and unprecedented change and students will undertake consulting projects with both existing players and disruptors. The course will take a general management perspective but students will have the opportunity to obtain an in-depth knowledge of their specific assignment.

Educational Objectives

The U.S. film and television business is a $200 billion industry with profound economic and cultural impacts around the globe. Its traditional business models are undergoing rapid change in response to technological innovation, shifts in consumer behavior, and growing international demand for its products. This course will expose students to issues and challenges faced by both incumbents and challengers as they attempt to chart their course in an ever-changing environment. While the course will have a specific industry focus, the issues faced by Hollywood are similar to those confronted by other industries and students will be able to apply many of the lessons learned in the course to different businesses.

Course Content and Organization

Overview and Introduction: The course will meet for seven on-campus sessions in the fall. These sessions are intended to (1) provide students with a basic understanding of the economics of the film and television industry through the use of cases and extensive background reading, (2) highlight some of the challenges and opportunities faced by older companies and new entrants, and (3) allow time for student teams to work together, engage with their project partners, and prepare for travel.

Projects: Students will assemble into five-person teams to work on projects throughout the course. Project partners will range from large studios to Internet-focused distribution companies. Project areas will include domestic, international, and over-the-top distribution.

Students will engage with their partner company throughout the fall and field work in Hollywood will be intense. Each project will focus on solving a specific and well-defined marketing or distribution challenge and will require extensive data collection and analysis. A central component of the immersion will be meetings and talks with studio heads and other key industry executives who will describe first-hand their challenges and strategies.

Deliverables: At the start of the Fall term, students will prepare a Team Launch Document. Students must also deliver a preliminary draft of their presentation and recommendations prior to the immersion trip to Los Angeles. The time in Hollywood will be focused on gathering additional data, refining analyses, and preparation of the final presentation to the partner. Students will deliver a practice presentation to the faculty on Monday, January 13. Students will present their final project recommendation to their partner organization on Tuesday, January 14.

Non-Disclosure Agreements: Partner companies will provide student teams with confidential information. Given the highly competitive nature of the industry, each partner organization will require students to sign the company’s confidentiality and intellectual property assignment agreement.




Due to the small size of the course, applications cannot be accepted from cross-registrants and auditors.

The Immersive Field Course Model

Immersive Field Courses are designed to offer second-year students an off-campus, experiential learning opportunity during the January term. A cornerstone of these courses is the expertise of faculty, who develop course content focused on teaching objectives that are met primarily through student-centered active learning opportunities including project work, site visits and participating in discussions with key contacts. As such, these courses provide students with an opportunity to apply first-hand the knowledge and skills gained from their on-campus MBA coursework in an off-campus setting.

Due to the nature of Immersive Field Courses students may be required to sign legal agreements requested by project partner organizations. Additional requirements and documentation may also be requested of students by organizations.

Course Credit and Fees

Students who successfully complete this course (including required participation in all on-campus sessions during the Fall and Spring terms) will earn 3.0 course credits.

HBS will provide logistical support for this course (including hotel accommodations, select meals, and local on-site travel arrangements). Students will be charged a course fee of $3,000 towards defraying a portion of these costs. Students who have an existing financial aid application on file may apply for additional financial support to participate in this course. Please see the Financial Aid website (login required) for more information on financial support for Immersive Field Courses.

For detailed information about what the course program fee includes and excludes, as well as information about student accommodations, please visit the GEO website.