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

5. Netflix


U.S. 2010 digital revenue: $1.5 billion-plus

Snapshot: Netflix went on a shopping spree last year by lining up an impressive range of deals for movie and TV content, from Disney to Relativity Media. That growth has kicked up combative words from the likes of Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, but Netflix founder Reed Hastings has bigger ambitions on the road ahead: Canada is the first stop on an international expansion, and there will be plenty of new personalization features, like Facebook integration, to serve the existing and rabid fan base.

Key digital move in 2010: Netflix began the tricky transition away from its mail-based service in November with the introduction of a streaming-only option for $7.99 per month. While that had a lot to do with the company’s 3 million-plus jump in subscriptions in the fourth quarter and a reduction in expensive mailing costs, Netflix still has to wrangle more streaming rights and avoid alienating its core fan base.

How we generated our estimate: It’s difficult to calculate Netflix’s digital revenue because most Netflix subscribers pay to get physical discs in the mail and also to watch content online. The company said last year that during the fourth quarter a majority of Netflix subscribers would watch more content streamed from Netflix than delivered on DVD. We therefore estimate that at least half of Netflix’s 2010 revenue was driven by streaming.