Blog Post

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

36. Netease

Diversified, China (Public)

Last year’s rank: N/A

Digital Content Revenue

$1,187,301,000 (100% of total)


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Digital Snapshot

Founded in 1997, NetEase operates the Youdao search engine, its 163.com portal with free and fee-based community services, and a range of mobile content like ringtones, news and apps. But it is the massive online gaming community, played in China’s cybercafes, on which Netease depends. With massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) like Tianxia III and Heroes of Tang Dynasty, Netease charges both for in-game virtual items and for, in the case of some titles, time played (US$0.06 per hour). The company has 545 million registered MMORPG players and a total 1.5 billion other accounts, including 97.6 million microbloggers.

Key Move

Taking a Blizzard to China. Following an earlier broad licensing agreement, NetEase recently set to localize Blizzard’s games Starcraft II and World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm games for Chinese players; as well as Blizzard’s Battle.net online gaming platform.

Our Methodology

NetEase disclosed it made $1,041,077,000 from online games, $126,380,000 from advertising services and $19,844,000 from wireless value-added services (mobile content) in 2011.

Source: SEC: 2011 Annual Report

— RA

21 Responses to “paidContent 50: The world’s most successful digital media companies”

  1. 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.

    I really hate this because, making loss to others for their own profit is a Digital Crime and Weak Business policy from my view. Check my site Arsenal Highlights

  2. ciaranj

    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.

  3. 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).

  4. Mindbendingpuzzles

    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.

  5. 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.

  6. Brendan

    Why is eBay not in this list? They have an ad business on eBay.com 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.

  7. 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.