Media covers a wide variety of streams—advertising, broadcasting and networking, news, print and publication, digital, recording, and motion pictures—and each has its own associated infrastructure. Media companies operate within these streams and offer products and services to end users from individuals to large organizations. This list of the top 10 global media companies provides a look into their businesses and operations. It is ranked in descending order of market cap figures.

Key Takeaways

  • The top media companies are involved in advertising, broadcasting, news, print publication, digital media and motion pictures.
  • The top ten media companies include AT&T, Walt Disney, Comcast, Charter Communications, and Twenty-First Century Fox.
  • The top ten media companies also include Thomson Reuters, CBS, WPP—based in London—as well as Dish Network, and Viacom.

AT&T (ATT)

Through its acquisition of Time Warner Inc. in June 2018, AT&T gained these media properties:

  • Networks (Turner Broadcasting and HBO that include local and international brands like TNT, TBS, CNN, Cartoon Network, and associated websites like CNN.com)
  • Filmed Entertainment (motion pictures, TV shows, and video games under the Warner Bros. brand)
  • Publishing (books and magazine publications, related websites)

In 2015, it acquired DirecTV (DTV) and gained operations across the U.S. and Latin America. DirecTV is a digital TV entertainment service provider via a satellite network. It's split into three segments namely, DIRECTV US, DIRECTV Latin America, and DIRECTV Sports Networks. AT&T has a market cap, as of September 2019, of $283.07 billion.

Walt Disney (DIS)

A large media and entertainment group with multiple subsidiaries and an international presence, Walt Disney was founded in 1923 and is headquartered in Burbank, California. In November 2019, Disney is slated to launch Disney Plus, a streaming service that will offer shows and movies, including vintage Disney content, original, exclusive shows, and blockbuster films.

Disney's five segments cover the following:

  • Media Networks (everything within TV, radio, and cable networks and related operations)
  • Parks and Resorts (theme parks, hotels, resorts, sports complex, dining and entertainment facilities, and water sports establishments)
  • Studio Entertainment (live-action and animated pictures for distribution in the U.S. through subsidiaries and worldwide through partner companies)
  • Consumer Products (licensing and retailing of trade names, characters, and properties, plus educational books and magazines)
  • Interactive Media (produces online and mobile games and gaming consoles)

It has a market cap of $245.33 billion as of September 2019.

Walt Disney continues to grow its brand with Disney Plus, a streaming video service, launching in November 2019.

Comcast Corp (CMCSA)

Established in 1963 with headquarters in Philadelphia, Comcast is one of the largest global media, entertainment, and communications companies listed on the NASDAQ. Its business is run through five segments:

  • Cable Communications (video, high-speed Internet, and voice services)
  • Cable Networks (national, regional, sports, news, international cable television networks)
  • Broadcast Television (Telemundo and NBC)
  • Filmed Entertainment (films and plays)
  • Theme Parks (in Orlando and Hollywood)

It has a market cap of $210.89 billion as of September 2019.

In 2018, after a bidding war, Comcast purchased UK-based Sky (the British satellite TV, broadband, and mobile services provider) for $39 billion.

Charter Communications (CHTR)

Charter Communications acquired Time Warner Cable in 2015, giving it a significant media presence. Time Warner Cable Inc. has a wide portfolio of products and service. It provides video, high-speed data, and voice services in the U.S. through its own broadband cable systems. Additionally, it also offers networking, advertising, and transport services. NaviSite, a subsidiary company, offers IT solutions and cloud services. Time Warner Cable was established in the year 2003. The parent company has a market cap of $94.13 billion as of September 2019.

Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (FOX)

Twenty-First Century Fox is focused on television broadcasting and film production. Its business operations are split across four major segments:

  • Cable Network Programming (production, licensing, program distribution, cable, and satellite broadcast in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the U.S.)
  • Filmed Entertainment (production of movies for global licensing and distribution)
  • Television (broadcasting and operations of network programming and TV stations)
  • Direct Broadcast Satellite Television (broadcast services in Italy, Germany, and Austria)

It has a market cap of $21.08 billion as of September 2019.

Thomson Reuters (TRI)

Two storied companies came together in 2008 when Canada's The Thomson Corporation, a multinational company grounded in mass media, acquired Reuters Group, which houses the much-celebrated newswire service. The Thomson Corporation dates back to 1934 and was founded by Roy Thomson. Reuters was founded in 1851 by Paul Julius Reuter. The company has a market cap of $33.47 billion as of September 2019.

CBS Corporation (CBS)

CBS Corp is in the business of creating and distributing media content to a global audience across multiple platforms. It operates across TV, radio, and print, as well as advertising services, including the ownership and management of ad spaces like billboards, transit paths, benches, trains, buses, etc. It was established in 2005 and is headquartered in New York. It has a market cap of $16.45 billion as of September 2019.

WPP Plc. (WPPGY)

Established in 1985 and based in London, WPP acts as a parent holding company. Through its subsidiaries, it provides communications services across multiple segments. Popular brands owned by WPP include JWT, Ogilvy & Mather, Y&R, and Grey. Its services include marketing communications, reputation management, brand management, and lobbying services. Its market cap is $16.09 billion as of September 2019. WPP is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

DISH Network Corporation (DISH)

The Dish Network operates as a parent holding company. Through its multiple subsidiaries, it provides TV services through direct satellite broadcast, broadband services, movies, and games on demand for rental and sale. It was established in 1980. It has a market cap of $17.21 billion as of September 2018.

Viacom Inc. (VIAB)

Established in 2005 in New York, Viacom is a creator and provider of entertainment content for a global audience through digital (online and mobile), film, and television. Popular brands include Nickelodeon, TeenNick, Comedy Central, Spike TV, Centric, etc. It also operates gaming businesses through websites like AddictingGames.com and Shockwave.com. Its filmed entertainment business includes brand names like Paramount Pictures, MTV Films, Nickelodeon, etc. It has a market cap of $10.65 billion as of September 2019.

The Bottom Line

Media is a diverse field. Many companies in the “media” category also operate businesses that may not necessarily qualify as media, such as software solutions, lobbying services, etc.

Investors looking for investments specifically in media companies should carefully study the different business segments, operational areas, business domains, and corporate structures to ensure the desired companies fit into their investment profile.