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

11. Sony


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

Snapshot: Sony has had a difficult couple of years financially, and the company has lost its innovation mantle to Apple. Where once there was Walkman, now there is the iPhone. Many of Sony’s key product advantages have been eroded in this way, but the company maintains significant clout in several key fields — notably, its popular PlayStation (and corresponding online PlayStation Network) and PSP — while IPTV offer a whole new range of possibilities for Sony’s television customers.

Key digital move in 2010: Qriocity, Sony’s latest offering, is a classic, grand attempt at knitting together Sony home electronics and content rights in a single service. Qriocity, which runs on games consoles, TVs and Blu-ray players for now (who knows what’s next?), includes VOD movies, games, Music Unlimited and, in time, games and e-books. Will it work? Remember Memory Stick?

How we generated our estimate: Sony doesn’t break out its digital revenue in its financial reports, and company representatives didn’t respond to our requests for comment. However, executives have said that the company’s PlayStation Network alone generated roughly $870 million in sales in 2010 from subscription fees and downloads. It’s unclear what percentage of that total comes from the U.S. The company’s Sony Music subsidiary also makes money from the sale of digital tracks. It doesn’t report that figure, but Nielsen Soundscan puts its market share of the digital music market in North America at roughly 25 percent, which would correspond to about $500 million in sales.

The company also generates revenue from the sale of content online via the download and streaming of its movie studios’ films, through Qriocity, and through the sale of e-books for its Sony Reader. We guess the total easily tops $1 billion in the U.S.