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

41. Walt Disney

Diversified, United States (Public)

Last year’s rank: #11

Digital Content Revenue

$1,000,000,000 (2% of total)

Digital Snapshot

Like other large media and entertainment companies, the Walt Disney Co.’s digital assets are spread across divisions: the Disney Interactive Media Group (DIMG), which includes Playdom, Disney Online (, Mom and Family Portfolio), Disney Online Studios (Club Penguin, other virtual worlds) and Disney Mobile (Tapulous, Disney); Disney Media Networks — the Disney–ABC Television Group and ESPN manage their own apps, sites, etc., and distribution; The Walt Disney Studios (includes home entertainment sales/distribution); Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Studios, ); Disney Consumer Products (includes Digital Publishing, `Marvel Publishing); The Disney Music Group (licenses digital distribution).

Key Move

CEO Bob Iger’s contract extension set a finite date for his retirement. Iger has set the tone on digital, saying “yes” to Steve Jobs and iTunes in 2005 just days after becoming CEO and later signing off on big digital investments like Playdom and Club Penguin, while recognizing that a considerable part of the value of acquiring Marvel Entertainment would be in its digital assets. Iger has yet to crack making a profit from the Disney Interactive Media Group, where Jimmy Pitaro and John Pleasant continue to whittle down losses while nudging up its revenue but the group remains the most consistent underperformer at Disney.

Our Methodology

During the company’s Q4 earnings call, CEO Bob Iger said the company gets more than $1 billion from digital revenue, but he wouldn’t be more specific. (That excludes excludes theme park sales, which would bring it well beyond $2 billion.) The Digital Interactive Media Group, which includes, Club Penguin, mobile and games, accounted for $982 million in revenue for fiscal year 2011 (with losses of $308 million). The group does not include digital revenue from ESPN, ABC or Marvel; it does include console games. Iger described the income from off-network sales as “relatively modest” compared to overall revenues. It’s hard to believe Disney is producing less digital revenue than its media peers so we are inclined to believe the amount was closer to $1.2 billion or more. But, without confirmation, will have to go by Iger’s comments.
Source: Q4 2012 earnings call

— Staci D. Kramer