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

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42. Viacom

Broadcast, United States (Public)

Last year’s rank: #18

Digital Content Revenue

$1,000,000,000 (6% of total)

Digital Snapshot

Viacom has been among the most aggressive cable programmers when it comes to monetizing its content through digital channels. But the company has also taken some hits because of that. It’s widely suspected, for example, that the viewership nosedive at Viacom’s top-rated kids channel, Nickelodeon, is directly related to the wide availability of Nick shows on platforms like Netflix. Meanwhile, in balking at Viacom’s significant demands for affiliate fee increases, DirecTV has cited the ubiquitousness of Viacom’s shows in over-the-top channels.

Key Move

In response to a carriage dispute with number-two pay-TV service DirecTV, Viacom pulled most of its in-season programming from the streaming market. The question analysts are asking: With pay TV operators like DirecTV now challenging Viacom on the value of its programming, will that signal a more permanent pull-back?

Our Methodology

Viacom stated in 2007 that it had exceeded its yearly goal of $500 million in digital content revenue, driven by online extensions of TV brands including MTV and Comedy Central. Since that time, the company has entered into a number of licensing deals for online content distribution — it gets about $100 million a year from streaming shows on Netflix, for example. Viacom no longer breaks out digital revenue. But based on its streaming deals, we believe the company’s digital media revenue now exceeds $1 billion.

Source: FY 2011 earnings report

— Dan Frankel

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 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.