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

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