Comcast heads media groups – top 50 ranked

Companies based in the US dominated the list of the world’s Top 50 audiovisual firms in 2010, with US-based Comcast Corp. leading the market with more than $35.6 billion in revenue, according to a new IHS Screen Digest Television Insight Report.

“Illustrating the importance of America to the global audiovisual market, the Top 5 companies in the business in 2010 were based in the United States, and derived most of their revenue from the country,” said Tim Westcott, senior analyst for TV at IHS. “Furthermore, these five companies collectively accounted for $143.2 billion in revenue, representing 30 per cent—or almost one-third—of the combined revenues of the Top 50 players. For the third year in a row, the list was led by Comcast, based on its status as the largest US.cable operator.”

All told, half of the Top 50 companies in 2010 were based in the US, while seven had headquarters in Japan and five made their home in the United Kingdom. Three companies each from France and Germany also found their way into the elite group, while two emerged from Italy. The remainder was divided among lone entries in Luxembourg, Brazil, Mexico, China and Canada.

Together, revenue in 2010 from the Top 50 audiovisual companies reached a staggering $470.5 billion—higher than the gross domestic product of Poland, ranked 20th in the world, and just below that of Switzerland, according to publicly disclosed figures by the International Monetary Fund.

The No. 2 performer in 2009, Time Warner, fell to fourth in 2010 with revenue of $26.9 billion—no longer the colossus it once was after spinning off its cable and recorded music arms while decoupling from AOL. Closing in on Comcast in 2010 was search giant Google Inc., categorized as an Internet portal, with $29.3 billion in revenue, up from fifth place in 2009. Unchanged in third place was The Walt Disney Co., with 2010 revenue of $27.3 billion.

Walt Disney and Time Warner were the largest diversified media companies, defined as entities active in a number of related areas including broadcasting, film and TV production, and home video production. Such companies gained scale through merger and acquisition deals when buzz words like “synergy” still ruled the boardrooms.

Rounding off the Top 5 was pay-TV operator DirecTV, which enjoyed strong growth to land revenue amounting to $24.1 billion.

The top non-American company was Japan’s Sony Corp., landing in sixth place at $23.5 billion, but felled by a negative three-year growth rate also suffered by the likes of Viacom Inc., Yahoo Inc., Warner Music Group and radio powerhouse Clear Channel Communications Inc. Sony’s inclusion in the top echelon was largely due to its Hollywood studio component, and does not take into account its prominent consumer electronics division.

The top European player was Vivendi from France, in ninth place with $16.6 billion—the most successful exemplar of the European attempt to build a diversified media company based on the U.S. model, with its interests in pay-TV and computer games.

Also landing in the Top 10 was Rupert Murdoch’s scandal-tinged News Corp., in seventh place with $22.7 billion. Lower down in the rankings was BSkyB of the United Kingdom, the entity Murdoch had hoped to take control of before the fallout.

Two other companies in the Top 10 were Time Warner Cable in eighth place, with $16.8 billion; and NBC Universal, another diversified media company—the sixth of its kind on the list—in the 10th spot with $16.4 billion.

The US, aside from being home to fast-growing cable and satellite companies, also spawned new challengers in the form of computer hardware and software entities such as Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc., as well as from telcos like Verizon FiOS TV.

Verizon FiOS TV was also the fastest-growing company on the list, logging a phenomenal three-year growth rate of 142.0 per cent, followed by Apple Inc. at 48.1 per cent and Google at 34.5 per cent.

Companies with the largest cumulative decline during the period were Warner Music Group, down 14.9 per cent; Nintendo Corp., down 14.2 per cent; and cable operator Liberty Global International, down 14.1 per cent.

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