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

8. News Corp.

News Corp.

U.S. 2010 digital revenue: $1.2 billion-plus

Snapshot: News Corp.’s digital presence, like its overall media footprint, is vast. Even at a time of fragmentation and waning influence for most mass-media moguls, Rupert Murdoch’s empire remains a multimedia powerhouse. That’s not to say that there aren’t dogs in the portfolio: News Corp.’s 2005 purchase of MySpace has become a symbol of media’s inability to successfully buy into social networking, and, earlier this year, the company put the struggling business up for sale.

Key digital move in 2010: News Corp.’s most important move was the realization that its future hinges on getting consumers to pay for the company’s content. Having seen its advertising-dependent operations get buffeted by the ad downturn, among other things, News Corp added new subscriber fees to the company’s newspaper sites in UK and Australia, and, in the U.S., started a new paid digital title altogether, The Daily, that launched this year. Behind these moves is a fundamental, long-term confidence that tablets will support a paid-content economy, and that producing news for a tablet is actually remarkably similar to producing it for newspapers.

How we generated our estimate: A spokesman tells us the company doesn’t break out the revenue it generates from online sources. News Corp. reports the results of its Digital Media Group, which includes stand-alone digital businesses like IGN and MySpace, under “other,” a category that also covers its outdoor advertising business in Eastern Europe. In 2010, News Corp. reported $1.5 billion in “other” sales. Considering the outdoor advertising business was on track to report $500 million in sales — in 2008 — it seems fair to assume that the digital media group itself was responsible for, at most, $1 billion in sales in 2010.

That total, however, does not include online revenue generated by the company’s many other operations, including its film and TV business and its newspapers. Executives have said that at least one of them, the Wall Street Journal, generates about $200 million from online advertising and subscriptions. Based on that, we’ll estimate that the revenue News Corp. generates from online content and online advertising in the U.S. easily tops $1.2 billion.