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.
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.