paidContent 50: The world’s most successful digital media companies


26. Comcast

Broadcast, United States (Public)

Digital Content Revenue

$1,500,000,000 (2% of total)

Digital Snapshot

The acquisition of NBCUniversal by Comcast has resulted in fairly robust, diversified digital portfolio. On the cable side, for example, Comcast continues to lead the pay TV industry’s TV Everywhere migration to digital platforms. The company has found success in niche businesses like advanced movie-ticket sales, with online seller Fandango finally establishing real growth and momentum. With NBCU in the fold, the conglomerate is now a leader in video streaming, owning a third of Hulu and aggressively migrating program rights acquisitions, such as the London Olympics, to digital platforms. Networks like USA, meanwhile, are on the cutting edge of marketing tools like social TV. Also in the portfolio: (formerly, which it just gained full custody of from Microsoft.

Key Move

After becoming the first network to live stream the Super Bowl, NBCU is going forward with an ambitious plan to show the bulk of its Olympics coverage on digital platforms.

Our Methodology

Comcast is yet another media conglomerate that now integrates its digital and traditional ad sales, and thus doesn’t break out digital revenue. NBCUniversal projected its 2009 digital revenue to be more than $1 billion. This was before Comcast purchased a majority of the company, a deal which brought to Comcast’s digital portfolio revenue from NBCU’s operations, including online movie-ticket seller Fandango. Our rough digital-revenue estimate for the combined company is significantly more than $1 billion now.

Source: Our estimate

— Dan Frankel



Tripadvisor is all digital media and is around $750 M in yearly revenue and should likely be included on this list.

Arsenal Highlights

Good Job Mr. Robert

I am a freelancing SEO and SMM professional. The recent update of google penguin and panda has changed the SEO pattern radically.

And google has done this algorithm change to spread their digital ads business nothing than this.

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If you want to rank things on revenue, fine. But then don’t call it the ‘Most Succesful List’: Microsoft might ‘make’ $3.9b on digital content, but it also loses around $3b every year too.


Thomson Reuters?! After Eikon failure & loss of half staff..? Are you mad.


What makes me wonder ist, taht there under th etzop 50 is not a single company from Germany. Germany is the biggest market in EUropa, but no German Hundefutter among the big player. I don’t buy that.

Abdallah Al-Hakim

I think this is a terrific list despite any reservations some people have about the methodology. It really demonstrates the huge growth potential of digital media companies in some of the emerging markets. Also, as a scientist – I note Elsevier being top 5 in revenue (Elsevier is publisher behind many of the top scientific journals).

Rick Noel

Google+ is a big strategy shift for Google and could, if executed well, become another digital revenue stream ti augment the search cash cow.


What about Valve and their digital games platform: Steam. I know they are a private company and figures are hard to come by but in 2011 Forbes reckoned they have more than 50% of the 4 billion dollar PC games download market. That is huge.

I would really love to see Paid Content do some investigation on Valve because they are an incredibly innovative company who really push digital retailing to its limits.


Groupon and Monster are’t really media companies. I’m not even sure that ad agencies should qualify in the same category as Viacom or Time Warner. Totally different business model.


Why is eBay not in this list? They have an ad business on and their classified sites, and the seller fees they collect are essentially paid ads since the platform doesn’t handle the items. This list is also missing Alibaba Group from China (including Taobao), and Gree from Japan.


Does this list distinguish between companies that charge users for access and those that do not, or was that weighted in the rankings?

Zato Gibson

“Creating this list wasn’t easy.”

I can imagine. Manipulating the numbers to get Microsoft into the top 10 must have been really tough.


Yes, but they still should have had time to comment on the fact that MSN is no longer part of Microsoft and hasn’t been for several weeks. Sure that means they get to claim the revenue for this year but at least point out that they won’t have it next year.

Robert Andrews

The Microsoft profile page says: “Microsoft recently sold its stake in”
And the research period for all companies here predates that sale.
Any revenue change as a result will be reflected in next year’s pC50.

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