Rock Band hits sour note in Viacom financials

MTV Games and Harmonix's rhythm franchise drag on parent company's Q2 results, as slow sales drive Media Networks segment's "41 percent decline in ancillary revenues."

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The good news for Viacom is that its subsidiaries MTV Games and Harmonix are entering the final stretch of bringing the highly anticipated The Beatles: Rock Band out for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii on September 9. The bad news for the media company is that slowing Rock Band franchise sales have tripped up its Media Networks segment.

These boys have talent.

Reporting on its second-quarter financial results this week, Viacom said that revenues for its Media Networks division fell 8 percent to $1.97 billion. Harmonix's Rock Band franchise was explicitly singled out as a primary factor, with the media company saying the drop was "principally due to a 41 percent decline in ancillary revenues driven by lower sales of the music video game."

Rock Band was also a factor in the Media Networks division's 12 percent skid in operating income, which fell to $671 million for the April-June quarter. According to the company, the slip could be attributed to "lower advertising revenues, losses associated with Rock Band due to the soft retail environment, and $16 million in severance charges."

Besides MTV and MTV Games, Viacom's Media Networks segment encompasses several television networks and their umbrella organizations. These include BET, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon, as well as cross-media properties, such as the Addicting Games casual game portal and the Xfire communication and networking service.

All said, Viacom experienced significant weakness across a number of its divisions during the three-month period. Companywide revenues stood at $3.3 billion for the quarter, a 14 percent decline from the same period a year ago. The media company also saw income slip 32 percent to $277 million during the period.

Discussion

96 comments
condelirios
condelirios

Umm.. of course sales are down.. no new product for almost a year. I think they have to just forget about the numbers until after The Beatles Rock Band comes out. It is a going to be a HUGE hit.

bumsliepsp
bumsliepsp

I think this is what's wrong with most companies. They seem to think things last forever and you should always make more money then you did the month before. The reality is that after awhile sales will drop it is simple logic. Although CEOs never see this as reality so they continue to pay themselves as though there is going to be a constant rising. This process is otherwise known as being idiots.

snake289
snake289

Good Ol' Viacom ruining everything since 1971.

enix165
enix165

I'm with Harerazer. =P Nevermind Tool, I've yet to meet anyone who likes them...XD If Pantera(RIP Dimebag Darrell...=() were to rerelease their old glam stuff, that'd make a great '80s Rock Band, but they don't seem too keen on it(their lead singer's ashamed of the hair, methinks...XD)...=(

CrackerRiley023
CrackerRiley023

awww, I feel so sorry for them, they only had $3.3 billion in revenue last quarter... what a shame.

guyguyguy1234
guyguyguy1234

Viacom, Viacom, Viacom. Havent you given us enough trouble?

Harerazer
Harerazer

I wish they did love the 80's bands. Too many of today's bands are just plain weak. Back when you had Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen, Slash, etc you knew you could get a good rockin' quitar riff. Now it's almost like they're going back to boy bands and faces...and way too much noise metal. Bring back the singers!

gmagnus
gmagnus

If they're in love with 80's bands, they're sure not showing it in the DLC. There are far more songs from 2000+ than the 80's. http://www.rockband.com/music/songs Sort by year and page down when 1980 is at the top and 2000 is at the top. I got 6 pages of 80s and 14 of 2000s. And why would they do more up and coming bands when so many people whine that they aren't enough big names?

Mister__Awesome
Mister__Awesome

In this economy price cuts are nothing to be ashamed about, Harmonix needs to cope with that in my opinion.

ItsEvolution
ItsEvolution

Maybe it's time to lower the price of single DLC songs to $1.49 or 99 cents. Focus on more up and coming, cheaper-to-license bands and less on the 80's bands that Harmonix seems to be totally in love with.

Weddum
Weddum

If only Rock Band was the first rhythm game to come out, and they started coming out on the current gen of consoles, we wouldn't have this problem of the genre feeling stale with continual GH releases. Face it, GH is the reason the genre is stale and needs to be revamped. Its also because of GH that Rock Band is having dwindling software sales. Consumers are so used to seeing a new GH game on the shelf every three months, and then they see the same Rock Band 1 and 2 on the shelf for years and think they aren't going to get more content, as I'm willing to be most people don't even know that Rock Band has a downloadable song library surpassing 650 songs. The casual buyers of music games, so to speak.

gnbfd
gnbfd

Also, it shocks me that no one had/s anything to say while Konami was/is milking its Benami games but when some other companies (Red Octane, Harmonix) came into the picture they get almost nothing but hate

Airek49
Airek49

Now let's look at how much is being made from DLC sales.

gnbfd
gnbfd

I blame Activision. It's a shame too. RB is the better game by MILES. I hope this doesn't affect the DLC releases though

missonrs
missonrs

dlc is expensive. even though you get to choose what you want in the dlc its atleast 50 cents more per song. and guitar hero would be better if they choose their songs more wisely.

Wula_
Wula_

I got both rock band and world tour. And I gotta say I find rock band way better. Guitar hero has the better instruments but rock band has good music and with some songs being on both games. I find the rock band note charts way funner to play.

dortega120
dortega120

Well obviously we can tell why sales are dropping. Its been out for over a year. Its wat happens with all [roducts of differnt categories, people just start getting tired of it as time passes; One thing I predict though. I bet a lot of people are waiting for the Beatles: Rock Band. Mark my words its going to be a huge success consumer-wise.

shakensparco
shakensparco

Oh no, Rock Band 2 has been out for what, a year? And the sales are dropping? Maybe its because most people who will buy it already have a copy!

Neosonic23
Neosonic23

Rock Ban Does have a Better DLC Content. But GH has a better fan base. However. Most GH fans are wishing to have most of RB s DLC .

Cricket_Sloat
Cricket_Sloat

@misfit1119: ya woulddnt it be nice to trade songs from the game for 1s you actually want so no money is wasted

lamprey263
lamprey263

when the Rockband Beatles game finally sells, it should make them a great deal of money, but maybe it's time to realize that these music games are like beating a dead horse, people are drowning in peripherals, these RB and GH games come out each year and cost a lot and half the tracks suck like some crap MySpace band

Azwethinkweiz89
Azwethinkweiz89

Well times are tough , and people are buying less. Hell I am, last year I was buying DLC for GH/RB every week, and I haven't bought a song since March. Plus I might guess since the peak for the music may have pass and now people are not interested. I know some folks who haven't play a music game since GHIII

Misfit119
Misfit119

AlbertoML - That sort of argument is absolutely the worst that there could be, especially in regards to the expansion games. Let's do a bit more math here. Game Cost: $60 Average Amount of Tracks: 45 (give or take) Cost Per Track: 1.45 Comparing this to DLC which runs around the 2.00 a track rate you're definitely saving money. Except you're not. You're wasting money on tracks that you normally wouldn't bother purchasing. For myself (as an example) there are only 25 songs in GH: Smash Hits that matter to me. That means that I'm paying $60 for 25 songs - I would actually save money if I purchased them as DLC. I could at least then pick and choose the songs I wanted instead of being saddled with garbage. I personally find it a lot harder to complain about core games (numbered titles) because they give you around 85 or so songs on disk. That's a great value for the amount of tracks you get even if you don't like the songs (around .55 cents a song). This is the only reason why Rock Band is superior to GH,at this point. Instead of throwing constant disks at us they throw lots of DLC which, in the end, is more worthwhile because we can pick what we want. When I buy a disk I find myself annoyed that I have to deal with certain music (MCR and Fallout Boy spring to mind) but when I get DLC I just avoid those sorts of songs and it makes the experience more enjoyable.

shavedballbag
shavedballbag

@link899 Alright, I won't call Guitar Hero "games" anymore. I will call them "albums". Now releasing a new "album" with new "songs" on them doesn't constitute milking a franchise. It constitutes giving the public more of what they want, and that's more music. If we want to call it milking a franchise then I guess we could call the whole record industry milking us for all we're worth.

mistablair
mistablair

Beatles Rock Band isn't aimed at the teenager crowd who seem to fill these boards. Despite what many here seem to think, Beatles will sell quite well as they are the highest regarded band with fans that span every age group.

NikBZero
NikBZero

Just shows that RockBand can't compete I guess. I'm getting sick of always seeing updates for this and GH on Xbox Live. Not interested and don't care what happans to RB

MissMorphine
MissMorphine

no RB for me this year. sry harmonix but Activision will get my money this September with GH5.

bassmaniac20005
bassmaniac20005

This is just proof that consumers are ready for The Beatles: Rock Band. Nobody wants to buy Rock Band 2 anymore because they're not going to buy anything Rock Band-related until then (aside from DLC, which is still selling, and sells most weeks, if not every week). Also, the rhythm game fad will not die until they get the big artists like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, which I don't see happening until after this year, IF Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, Roger Waters, and David Gilmour look at how The Beatles: Rock Band is doing. If TB:RB sells extremely well, don't expect Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin outside of Rock Band for long.

Gladestone1
Gladestone1

Sorry rock band not this year..Ive got way to many games do out..Plus im thinking of buying that other guitar game...So if you didnt do a rock band beatles which doesnt interest me at all..Perhaps maybe a rush rock band, maybe do a hair band rock band, a 80s rock band...Some thing better than this crap..Last years rock man had me interested..Im just not this year..Better luck next year..Be more creative next time..

Fallen119
Fallen119

The Beatled Rock Band = FAIL

keyser27
keyser27

Meh. The GH stuff sucks, but I do like the occasional RB track download... for instance this week is Weezer's Undone (The Sweater Song). Definite buy. I hardly ever play it, only downloading a few songs a month, but when a party happens, it can be fun. I think Beatles will be a big seller, but largely the rampaging Activision shovel is working overtime destroying every genre they touch. We don't need a new GH every few months, a new COD EVERY year, a new Tony Hawk every year... all with virtually no improvements. When a company like Activision saturates any market, it will definitely destroy it with shovelware. People will buy COD 6 I'm sure, but it's the same as COD4. Who cares. I'd rather get the odd song on RB that is GOOD than and play other, superior, shooters and skateboard games than support a company who is only repackaging the last game and belching more out. No thanks.

wiiplay1
wiiplay1

@sonicremix9 First of all, Viacom has nothing to do with Guitar Hero. Second, this doesn't mean that it's dieing.

sonicremix9
sonicremix9

Yay, good news. The GH/RB trend it dieing done! This is what happens when you release the same crap over an over again. The cash cows is dead, move on and make a real game.

mechajosh
mechajosh

That's true. The scream on the recording is John, but Paul would scream when they were playing live, because John couldn't scream, then immediately start singing the verse. They did that on the video as well to make it look seamless. John did the original recorded scream though. Double tracked, and then proceeded with the verse.

supermike6
supermike6

@sirdluiiea When they were live Paul always did it because John couldn't recover in time to sing the first line. On the record they edited it together so it was John who screamed.

sirdluiiea
sirdluiiea

@WhiteWorld yes in the video of revolution, paul screams, but I read somewhere that in the record john is who screams,

latin_boi
latin_boi

With all this Guitar Hero vs. Rock Band stuff, this should show that not always does the "better" game end up being more successful. With all the people complaining about the multitude of Guitar Hero games coming, you'd think that Activision would have this problem, but no...Guitar Hero continues to sell strong. It's unfortunate to hear this about Rock Band though. Both are great games

scarface_dm
scarface_dm

What do they expect, music games was a fad and it will slowly go the way of the dodoo, and I say good ridance :D

Pete5506
Pete5506

There have been to many music type games in the last so many years. The games would do better if there was a little time between the different releases

natron557
natron557

@slycooper21 EA doesn't just do this with their football franchise. Madden is a small piece of their monopoly. I hope to see some of these law suits against them go in the right direction. I mean most sports gamers are going to choose the game with actual athletes over the game with made up athletes.

pvtdonut54
pvtdonut54

@slycopter21 Do more by not doing, stop making them obviously. You played one, you played them all IMO.

slycooper21
slycooper21

@pvtdonut54 I disagree with your comment about EA Sports. Yeah, the games are fairly similar each year, but in the case of football, how much more can you do with it each year?

link899
link899

@shavedballbag: Defending Activisions releases as games is the biggest load of bs I have ever seen. Do you really need a special game for Aerosmith, Metallica, Van Halen a 5th installment a band version "for the family" and a greatest hits?

pvtdonut54
pvtdonut54

Music games need to die with the same game released every year (EA Sports also anyone?).

natron557
natron557

surprise surprise... they milked it for all its worth and have driven the entire genre into the scorched earth below. Its been done before, and it will happen again.

redskinStu
redskinStu

That Beatles thing is gonna be stupid anyway.

paullywog
paullywog

@nickkelanius while generally i also hate dlc, music games are one of the few games where its existence is beneficial, if not necessary. dlc for rock band makes more sense than the average dlc you see.