China Joins ZO's Roster Of World's Biggest Media Companies

China is rising.

For the first time, Chinese companies have placed on ZenithOptimedia's list of the top-30 global media owners ranked by media revenue. And in a big way.

China’s national state television company, CCTV joined the list at 23rd place, ahead of Facebook. The company operates 22 free channels and 23 pay-TV channels and accounts for about a quarter of China’s TV ad market. 

Another Chinese media company, Baidu, placed 28th, ahead of Microsoft. It is the country’s main search engine, the local equivalent of Google, which does not operate in China. 

It takes more than traditional advertising to make the list. ZenithOptimedia, a unit of Publicis Groupe, defines media revenue as all revenues deriving from businesses that support advertising, including television broadcasting, newspaper publishing and Web search, as well as monies earned from circulation revenues for newspapers or magazines or subscription revenues for pay-TV services. 

In total, 18 of the 30 companies on the list are based in the U.S., six in Europe, three in Japan, two in China and one in Brazil. Between them, they attracted around $291 billion in media revenue in 2012, with the top 10 media owners on the list accounting for around 65.4% of the total (down from 67.6% in 2011).

Google retained the top slot on this year’s list, with revenues 47% higher than No.2-ranked DirecTV. Disney ranked third, overtaking News Corporation, which now has split into two separate companies: 21st Century Fox (#4) and News Corp (#12). Comcast came in fifth. 

Most companies in the top 30 have operations in more than one country. In fact, only seven companies are essentially devoted to one market: Baidu, CCTV and Globo, plus Cox Enterprises in the US, and the three Japanese companies Asahi Shimbun Company, Yomiuri Shimbun Holdings and Fuji Media Holdings. 

The arrival of China's Baidu means there are now five pure-play Internet media owners in the top 30, up from four last year. Between these five — Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Baidu, and Microsoft — they attract 67% of all global expenditure on Internet advertising.

"This demonstrates how power in the Internet ad market currently belongs to the intermediaries — companies that connect consumers with the content they’re looking for, or with each other — rather than to the content producers themselves," says the report. Indeed, these five intermediaries account for 21% of all media revenue generated by the top 30 media owners.

Still, content creators are still money makers. Twenty-two companies in the top 30 are traditional media and entertainment companies that create and distribute their own content. Between them, they account for 64% of the combined media revenues of the Top 30 media owners.

The report covers the financial year 2012, which is the latest year for which all publicly listed companies reported consistent revenue figures. ZO launched its Top 30 Global Media Owners report in 2007 and each entry describes the core business and its recent developments, lists media properties and provides financial information, including total revenue, media revenue and a breakdown of media revenue by division where available.

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