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

11. NBC Universal

NBC Universal

U.S. 2010 digital revenue: $1 billion-plus

Snapshot: In 2008, then-NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker famously warned that the media industry couldn’t trade “digital pennies for analog dollars.” On his way out, he said NBC Unversal was up to “digital dimes.” Not quite a ringing endorsement of the success of the company’s digital operations, which include comScore top-50 sites iVillage, NBC.com, and Weather.com. But Zucker did add, “We have to keep trying and we’re making progress.”

Key digital move in 2010: Comcast’s purchase of a majority stake in NBC Universal combined Comcast Interactive brands such as DailyCandy, Swirl and Fandango with NBCU’s existing digital portfolio. Nearly taken away from the new entity was Hulu, although regulators ultimately let Comcast keep NBCU’s stake in the digital JV; the regulators did force Comcast to give up its management rights in the video portal Zucker and NBCU co-founded.

How we generated our estimate: When NBC Universal Chief Digital Officer George Kliavkoff stepped down in November 2008, he told employees the company’s digital revenues would “easily exceed” $1 billion in 2009 across the company. NBCU has decentralized its digital operations since, making it more difficult now to unpeel those numbers, but between increases in digital activity and the addition of Comcast’s properties, it seems fair to assume that the company’s digital sales would have increased. That’s up from the $400 million in digital revenue NBC Universal reported in 2006, a total it said came from online advertising, iTunes downloads, and wireless sales.