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YouTube, Amazon and other tech giants fuel entertainment job growth in L.A. County

HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 2, 2014: Steady cam operator Kenji Luster, left, Actor Titus Welliver, mid
Actor Titus Welliver, who plays an LAPD homicide detective in the Amazon series “Bosch,” on set in 2014.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Amazon, YouTube and other tech giants are helping to fuel substantial job growth in Los Angeles’ signature entertainment sector, even as Hollywood grapples with massive upheaval caused by digital disruption.

That’s the takeaway from a new report funded by Los Angeles County.

L.A.’s film and digital media industry grew to 265,200 jobs in 2016, up 23% from 2011, outpacing New York and the rest of the nation, according to the report conducted by research firm Beacon Economics.

In New York — a chief rival for film productions — job growth during that same period was 12%, while national job growth in that sector was 15%, said the report, which was released Monday.

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“The emergence of digital media has helped to strengthen, not weaken, Los Angeles County’s position in the film sector,” said Alysa Hannon, a manager at Beacon Economics’ sustainable growth and development practice.

For example, Google’s YouTube, one of the world’s largest online video platforms, opened a 41,000-square-foot space in Playa Vista in 2012 at the site of a former hangar used for Army helicopters during the Vietnam War. That space has emerged as a key destination for YouTube creators eager to learn the latest insights on how to grow their audiences and a production facility for online videos. YouTube did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Beacon’s report.

Other tech companies, including Amazon, Facebook and Apple, are also increasing their presence in Southern California. Facebook in 2016 moved into a new L.A. office in Playa Vista that had room for 200 employees, roughly double its L.A. workforce at the time.

Amazon Studios has relocated from Santa Monica to the historic Culver Studios. Apple also recently leased space for a new office in Culver City to grow its original content business.

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Adam Fowler, director of research at Beacon Economics, attributes the job growth to both an improvement in the economy and also “demand for video content growing.” Back in 2005, “players like Facebook were just getting off the ground, and now those kinds of platforms are investing large sums of money into original content creation,” Fowler said.

The report said that growth in jobs held by racial minorities compared to non-Hispanic whites has increased in the last decade but non-Hispanic whites continue to represent a majority of the film and digital media workers in L.A. County at 57%. The gender ratio in jobs stayed “virtually unchanged” from 2006 to 2016, with 60 female workers to every 100 male workers, the report said.

Beacon estimates that in the next three years, 16,500 digital media and film-related jobs will be added in L.A. County, including, 3,800 “emerging digital media” jobs, a category that includes data processing and internet publishing and broadcasting.

wendy.lee@latimes.com

Twitter: @thewendylee


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