Games revenue falls
French entertainment and telco giant Vivendi announced rising first-half revenues Monday, up 10.2% on last year to E11.27 billion ($16.43 billion).Earnings nevertheless fell 15.8% vs. the same period in 2007 to $2.65 billion. But Vivendi topper Jean-Bernard Levy predicted profit growth similar to that of 2007 by year’s end. The group’s music and TV concerns both appear to be thriving, while telco biz SFR is struggling with regulatory and other costs. At Universal Music Group, operating profit was up 17.7% to $378 million “under difficult market conditions.” Revenue dipped 2.4%. Feevee Canal Plus saw operating profits rise 17.4% to $582 million, excluding continuing costs of merging with former rival TPS. Synergies from the merger continue to flow, including lower distribution and programming costs. Canal Plus also saw takings rise in Poland and from French digital channel I>Tele, as well as through merging Kinowelt with StudioCanal in Germany. Vivendi Games posted operating profits of $134 million, down 22.7% on the first half of 2007. The group pointed out that this sharp fall is from a peak after the release of “World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade” in the first half of 2007. The online game has a worldwide subscriber base of 10.9 million, and the next release is due later this year. Costs in the games business were also boosted by increased development spending at the Sierra Entertainment subsidiary and higher marketing costs, mainly for “Spiderwick” and “Bourne Conspiracy” products.