Rock Band drags down Viacom earnings, scores No Doubt album

Media multinational reports worldwide ancillary revenues declined 7 percent due to slowing sales of rhythm game series; Tragic Kingdom to be available next week as DLC.


The past year has shown that rhythm game sales are slowing, and the Rock Band series is no exception. Viacom, the media multinational that owns the music-game series' publisher MTV Games, reported yesterday that worldwide ancillary revenues fell 7 percent "reflecting lower sales of Rock Band music video games."

Rock Band owners can now party like it's 1995.
Rock Band owners can now party like it's 1995.

Viacom did not give exact figures for the Rock Band franchise's decline, but the company has expressed its displeasure in fiduciary form. In February, the company asked the series' developer, Harmonix, to refund a "substantial portion" of $150 million in performance-related payouts given to the Boston-based developer. That month, Viacom blamed declining sales of Rock Band games for a a 6 percent slip in the October-December earnings of its Media Networks division, which includes MTV Games parent MTV Networks.

During the January-March quarter, the Media Networks division saw revenue increase 4 percent to $1.94 billion, thanks to increased ad sales and affiliate fees. Overall for the quarter, Viacom revenues fell 4 percent year-over-year to $2.786 billion, with operating income rising 21 percent to $534 million and net earnings climbing 37 percent to $243 million.

The Rock Band series' current doldrums come just months after The Beatles: Rock Band, boosted Viacom's earnings by selling 1 million units following its September 9, 2009 release. Following last month's launch of the Rock Band Network, the company is hoping to reenergize the series with two offerings this year: Green Day: Rock Band, due out June 8, and Rock Band 3, due out around the holidays. However, it did lay off staff at Harmonix in December to cut costs.

Now, the good news: Next week, No Doubt fans will be able to buy the California ska-pop band's entire 1995 album Tragic Kingdom as a download from the Rock Band Store. All tracks will be original master recordings and will cost $2/160 Microsoft points/200 Wii points per track or $15/MSP1,600/WP1,500 for the entire album. The complete track list is below and will bring the total count of Rock Band tracks available on game discs and on the Rock Band Store to 1,174:

• No Doubt – "Different People"
• No Doubt – "End It on This"
• No Doubt – "Happy Now?"
• No Doubt – "Hey You"
• No Doubt – "Sixteen"
• No Doubt – "The Climb"
• No Doubt – "Tragic Kingdom"
• No Doubt – "World Go ‘Round"
• No Doubt – "You Can Do It"
• Orianthi – "According to You"
• Picture Me Broken – "Dearest (I’m So Sorry)"

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