U.S. 2010 digital revenue: $500 million-plus
Snapshot: Viacom has said it is aiming for “digital dollars, not dimes” through deals like its pay-TV channel Epix’s five-year, $1 billion streaming pact with Netflix, which was announced in August. A strength in its digital portfolio is casual gaming. Its gaming sites include Addictinggames.com, Nick.com, Neopets and Shockwave. Viacom appears to have completely missed out on the surge in social gaming, however, although it picked up Social Express in July.
Key digital move in 2010: The internet has very much moved on, but Viacom is still litigating a $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit against Google’s YouTube. It argues that the site should be held responsible for copyright-infringing videos uploaded there before 2008. The company was dealt a huge blow in the case in June when a judge ruled against it. The case is under appeal.
How we generated our estimate: Viacom executives said four years ago they expected the company to bring in $500 million in digital sales in 2007 and later said they had in fact surpassed that goal. Viacom, however, has notably not provided an update since, saying in 2009, for instance, that the company would not separate out the numbers because digital ads were primarily being sold as add-ons to traditional ads rather than separately.
As with a number of companies on this list, Viacom executives tell us it is too difficult to extract digital revenue from overall revenue, and they no longer try to break it out internally. To take one example, the Epix JV is accounted for as an equity investment and includes pay TV fees as well as movie site EpixHD.com. We can safely guess, though, that the digital total continues to exceed $500 million. Because it could be substantially above that amount, we ranked it higher than CareerBuilder ($560 million), WebMD ($530 million), Monster Worldwide ($530 million), and the National Football League ($500 million).