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

12. CBS

CBS

U.S. 2010 digital revenue: $1 billion

Snapshot: The company has spent billions building its interactive group-much of it in one large chunk when it acquired CNET Networks for $1.8 billion in 2008. CBS’ portfolio of digital brands includes CNET, CBS.com, CBSSports.com, Chow, Last.fm, and TV.com. But it has also shown a cautious side when it comes to ventures like Hulu. CBS is the only major broadcast network not to join the video portal, saying it prefers to sell advertising against its own content; it has left open the possibility that some content ultimately may wind up on the premium version of the service, Hulu Plus.

Key digital move in 2010: This move happened earlier this month but it is significant enough that we will highlight it here: CBS purchased online TV guide Clicker and installed its CEO, Jim Lanzone, as the president of CBS Interactive. Lanzone’s hiring marks a new, post-CNET acquisition era for CBS Interactive. His predecessor, Neil Ashe, was the former CEO of CNET and most of the top management team responsible for the integration of CNET has also moved on. Notable exception: Zander Lurie, who was CNET CFO and is now SVP of strategic development for CBS corporate.

How we generated our estimate: CEO Leslie Moonves said in February that CBS Interactive’s annual revenue was in the “$600 million range.” That figure, however, did not include digital revenue from other sources like CBS Local Digital Media or book publisher Simon & Schuster. Lurie told investors at a conference earlier this year that “if you look at all … online revenue, mobile revenue, digital distribution revenue, revenue from e-books, it’s well approaching $1 billion across the company.” That’s the number Moonves promised investors in June 2008 CBS Interactive alone would generate by 2010-11.