The Top 10 European media companies: how they compare in revenue, cash and geography
The biggest European media company by a long way (c.40%) remains Germany’s Bertlesmann, with annual revenues of €17.1 billion, EBITDA of €2.49 billion and year-on-year growth of 2.8%. As a media conglomerate, Bertlesmann operate 8 separate divisions - from music (they own BMG) to publishing (via Gruner & Jahr) - operating across 50 countries, although their primary markets from a revenue perspective are Germany, France and Benelux. Separating out Gruner and Jahr, their publishing business, see their publishing revenues (both print and digital) at €1.5 billion.
[N.B. September 2017 update: this analysis of European media companies has been updated for 2016/17, with our European media company latest analysis here >>]
Top 10 European Media Company Financial Data
Looking just at EBITDA, a good proxy for cash generation, the UK’s BSKYB is on par with Bertelsmann, with BSKYB at €2.36 billion and Bertelsmann at €2.49 billion, and BSKB showing a strong 5% growth rate (compared to Bertelsmann’s 2.8%).
TV still very much dominates, with 6 out of the top 10 European media companies majoring on TV. Interestingly each of these, with the exception of the UK’s ITV, has made a concerted effort to ‘digitise itself’ and diversify revenues in the face of the threat of shrinking TV audiences. Each of these legacy TV businesses have built up digital assets, largely via acquisition: for example, France’s Vivendi acquired European YouTube competitor DailyMotion, BSKYB has invested $5 million in native ad company Sharethrough, Bertelsmann has made a string of digital acquisitions including SpotXchange and LiquidM and ProSiebenSat 1 similarly - although interesting ProSiebenSat 1 has had a strong focus on e-commerce.
The biggest pure-play traditional publisher is Germany’s Axel Springer, with revenues of €3.3 billion, EDBITA of €560 million and a healthy year-on-year revenue growth rate of 8.5%. Axel Springer, although historically a newspaper publisher owning flagship brand Bild, is very focused on digital with a corporate mission to be ‘the leading digital publisher’. Its recent acquisition of Business Insider for $450 million is a clear indicator of its digital intent; the acquisition of Business Insider also marked a new strategy to grow revenues in the US, with the launch of a new US office and team. Other significant pure-play publishers that sit in the top 25 Media Company list include the UK’s Daily Mail, with revenues of €2.1 billion, and Norway’s Schibsted, with revenues of €1.7 billion.
Overall the revenue growth of the top 10 European media companies was steady, with stand-out growth success stories being the UK’s ITV (at 58%) and Germany’s ProSiebenSat 1 (at 13.4%) - both primarily TV companies. Interestingly, looking outside of the top 10 into the wider top 25 European media companies we see a lot less growth, with c.50% of companies seeing significant year-on-year declines in revenues; the two stand-out companies in decline being Finland’s Sanoma Media (-11%) and Hubert Burda Media (-10%). Burda’s sharp decline in revenues may well be a reason for it closing the door on its relationship with now bankrupt Mode Media.
Flag image credit by Karan Jain on Flickr
*ITV's % revenue growth is under-reported in the graph on purpose - for visual clarity purposes. The real number should be 58% (as stated in the copy above)