The paidContent 50: The Most Successful Digital Media Companies In The U.S.

22. Time Warner

Time Warner

U.S. 2010 digital revenue: $400 million-plus

Snapshot: Each of Time Warner’s three units has major digital operations; Turner co-manages the NBA’s digital business under an agreement that runs through the 2015-2016 season, operates top news site CNN.com, and has put thousands of hours of programming online for Comcast cable subscribers; the company’s Warner Bros. unit also has a big presence in online games through subsidiaries like Turbine — Lord of the Rings Online is one example — and owns TMZ.com; while Time Inc.’s magazines have corresponding online publications and apps, which are considered among the most successful in the magazine industry.

Key digital move in 2010: The AOL-Time Warner spinoff happened in 2009 — but 2010 was the year Time Warner was finally able to celebrate being AOL-free. In a December 2009 memo, CEO Jeff Bewkes declared that the company was “driving the development of new business models to capitalize on new technologies and changes in the way people consume media.” He cited its TV Everywhere initiatives, and efforts to bring its magazines to e-readers and tablets.

How we generated our estimate: Not so scientific (and a spokesman did not help): A slide deck Time Warner presented at its investor’s day a year ago showed that digital accounted for about 10 percent of CNN’s revenue, or about $160 million. Turbine, a MMOG publisher the company purchased in 2010, had more than $50 million in sales in 2010. Time Warner’s TMZ.com had about $15 million in sales in 2009. And the company says about 10 percent of Time Inc.’s $2.45 billion in ad revenue, or $245 million, comes from online sources. Tally all those up, and the company’s digital revenue was at least $400 million in 2010. Because it could be substantially above that amount, we ranked it higher than Groupon ($480 million), Major League Baseball ($450 million), Warner Music ($440 million), and Electronic Arts ($400 million).