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


39. Electronic Arts

Games, United States (Public)

Last year’s rank: #26

Digital Content Revenue

$1,070,000,000 (29% of total)

Digital Snapshot

The big dog in the gaming park, EA is known for its licensed sports franchises for boxed games like FIFA, which alone has made it over $5 billion in revenue to date. But, in a gaming market challenged by spiralling production costs and the waning of the current console cycle, the firm has pared back its tier-A release schedule from 67 in 2009 and 54 in 2010 to 36 in 2011. It expects to release just 22 big-budget games in 2012. Gaming’s momentum is not with plastic discs but with online distribution, mobile and social gaming.

Key Move

EA fired further in to gaming’s truly digital future — to gain more control, more direct consumer revenue and cheaper production and distribution costs. After acquiring the relatively small social games maker Playfish, EA sold $743 million in games online in 2011, which was 42 percent more than the previous year. Though console makers, app stores and networks like Facebook control much of this distribution, EA also launched its own store for PC and mobile games, Origin, picking up 11 million members and $150 million in download sales in 10 months. Meanwhile, EA’s Stars Wars: The Old Republic online game became the genre’s number-two title, with 1.7 million active subscribers. All of this helped slim EA’s losses, but the games publisher purists love to hate is still in the red.

Our Methodology

Although games on discs are inherently digital, we are not counting themx and are interested in the new worlds of digital distribution, mobile and social gaming, etc. EA stated it made this much from extra online game content, full-game downloads, mobile games and subscription, ads and other digital revenue.

Source: Q4 2012 slides

— RA



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

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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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