A media franchise is the licensing of intellectual property of an original work of media (usually a work of fiction), such as a film, a work of literature, a television program or a video game, to others. This licensing may involve trademarked characters and settings. Generally, a media franchise means that a whole series is made in a particular medium, along with licensing to others for merchandising and endorsements.
Recently, some parts of the film industry have erroneously begun to use the word "franchise" as a synonym for a film series. However, unless the owners of the copyright to a film series also have trademarked the names of characters and other elements in the films, and are licensing the use of these to others, a film series is not a franchise, as the act of such licensing is what constitutes franchising.
Development to other forms 
Media franchises tend to cross over from their original media to other forms. Literary franchises are often transported to film, such as Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, and other popular detectives, as well as Superman, Spider-Man, and other popular comic book superheroes. Television and film franchises are often expanded upon in novels, particularly those in the fantasy and science fiction genres, such as Star Trek, Doctor Who and Star Wars. Similarly, fantasy, science fiction films and television shows are frequently adapted into an animated television series or a video game, or both.
Non-fiction literary franchises include the ...For Dummies and The Complete Idiot's Guide to... reference books. An enduring and extensive example of a media franchise is Playboy Enterprises, which began expanding well beyond its successful magazine, Playboy, within a few years after its first publication, into such enterprises as a modeling agency, several television shows (Playboy's Penthouse, in 1959), and even its own television channel. Twenty-five years later, Playboy released private clubs and restaurants, movie theaters, a radio show, direct to video films, music and book publishing (including original works in addition to its anthologies of cartoons, photographs, recipes, advice, articles or fiction that had originally appeared in the magazine), footwear, clothing of every kind, jewelry, housewares (lamps, clocks, bedding, glassware), guitars and gambling, playing cards, pinball machines and pet accessories, billiard balls, bedroom appurtenances, enhancements, plus countless other items of merchandise.
See also 
- List of video game franchises
- List of television show franchises
- Film series
- Spin-off (media)
- Spiritual sequel