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


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



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

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


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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