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

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8. Thomson Reuters

Business information, Canada (Public)

Last year’s rank: N/A

Digital Content Revenue

$4,709,070,000 (34% of total)


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Digital Snapshot

Thomson Reuters is best known for its globe-spanning network of reporters but the vast majority of its income comes from less glamorous operations, like legal and financial terminals. These digital platforms command hefty subscription revenues from a large and locked-in customer base. The giant company also has digital offerings in fields like health, accounting and regulatory compliance. Media counts for just 4% of company revenue but still adds up to an impressive figure of $336 million

Key Move

In 2011, the successful launch of WestlawNext helped TR keep its lucrative legal customers but the premature launch of new financial terminal, Eikon, led to rival Bloomberg gaining market share. On the media front, new Reuters executive rditor Stephen Adler named former FT bigwig Chrystia Freeland as chief digital maven.

Our Methodology

Thomson-Reuters says 10% of its revenue comes from print, but does not break down the rest. That other 90% is from software, services and digital. To determine the latter, we used a proxy in the form of Thomson Reuters’ competitor, Wolters Kluwer. Wolters breaks down its own digital revenue percentages for categories like “Legal” (33% digital) and “Tax and Accounting” (27% digital) that Thomson Reuters also uses. In addition to those categories, Wolters has a ‘Finance’ business and, by means of equivalent, Thomson Reuters has a much bigger ‘Markets’ business. We used Wolters’ Finance digital figure of 37% digital revenue and applied it to Thomson Markets, but broke out the unique “Media” category worth $336 million and counted that all as digital (as we did with AP). Finally, we folded Thomson Reuters “Intellectual Property and Science category into Legal.

Source: 10K

— Jeff Roberts

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.