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

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35. CBS

Broadcast, United States (Public)

Last year’s rank: #12

Digital Content Revenue

$1,200,000,000 (8% of total)

Digital Snapshot

Unlike Disney and News Corp., CBS doesn’t group its network websites and apps with the network. Instead, CBS.com is part of CBS Interactive, along with CNET, CBSNews.com, CBSSports.com, GameSpot, TV.com, Last.fm and 26 other brands. CBS Interactive was the 12th-largest U.S. web destination publisher in May with 73.8 million uniques, just below Comcast NBC Universal but considerably more than Disney Online and ESPN combined. CBS Local Digital Media is part of CBS Radio. Publishing arm Simon & Schuster gets nearly one-fifth of its revenue from ebooks.

Key Move

CBS shared its biggest flourish in 2011 with Time Warner’s Warner Bros., its partner in The CW, when the two agreed to a deal with Netflix that could be worth up to $1 billion if every bit comes through. CBS and Warner Bros. also made a multi-year deal with Hulu Plus to reach teen audiences, putting same-season episodes online only with authentication. CBS CEO Leslie Moonves is the highest paid of his peers — and digital is finally far outweighing his own compensation package as his strategy pays off.

Our Methodology

CBS stopped breaking out digital as a unit in 2009, a year after the acquisition of CNET Networks, and no longer reports an overall amount. Company executives confirmed last year that it reached a $1 billion goal in digital overall in 2010. The only number it broke out this year was for Simon & Schuster: 17 percent or about $134 million of $787 million in revenue came from e-books. The company also made lucrative streaming deals with Netflix, Amazon and Hulu Plus (some through its partnership with Warner Bros. in The CW); that expanded the digital bottom line for 2011 but much of the income will be booked over a number of years. A source estimates another $8 million from local, primarily from online advertising. Overall, it looks like CBS expanded digital revenue to about $1.2 billion in 2011.

Source: Our estimate

— Staci D. Kramer

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