Powered by Universal Music, Vivendi Posts 5% Revenue Increase During First Quarter of 2021

Olivia Rodrigo
Stefan Kohli

Vivendi, the Paris-based parent company of Universal Music Group and Canal Plus Group, saw its revenues rise by 5% to €3.9 billion ($4.6 billion) during the first quarter of 2021.

The company’s results were primarily bolstered by Universal Music Group whose revenues went up 9.4% thanks to the growth in subscription and streaming revenues (which was up 19.6%). Recorded music revenues grew by 10.8%, while physical sales were up 14.8%, driven by bigger sales of new release and catalog titles. UMG’s planned IPO date keeps moving sooner as well: It moved from “early 2022” to “by the end of 2021” a few weeks ago, and according to the earnings call, it has apparently moved to the fall.

New releases from King & Prince and Justin Bieber, as well as continued sales from The Weeknd, Ariana Grande and Pop Smoke were part of the recorded music best sellers for the first quarter of 2021. On the Spotify global chart, UMG had Olivia Rodrigo’s (pictured) “Driver’s license” and Justin Bieber’s “Peaches” rank No. 1 during 12 of 13 weeks in the first quarter. The cancellation of touring activities, however, did have an impact on merchandising and other revenues, which were down 10.0%.

UMG reached an agreement last month regarding a five-year €3 billion ($3.6 billion) financing line with four leading banks, which is expected to be completed by the end of April.

Over at Canal Plus, revenues remained stable at €1.3 billion ($1.5 billion) thanks to revenues from international operations and Studiocanal, which recorded an 8.9% revenue increase, driven by strong sales of catalog titles and TV series. Revenues from television operations in mainland France slightly decreased, however.

Canal Plus recently scored several strategic agreements to ramp up its content portfolio, notably with Starzplay, which will now be distributed by Canal Plus. The pay-TV group also has deals with Netflix and Disney Plus, among other services.

In terms of sports rights, Canal Plus has made a global agreement with the Professional Football League to acquire the audiovisual rights for Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 for the 2020-2021 season.

Vivendi also benefited from the large growth of its publishing banner Editis, whose revenues skyrocketed by 40% during the first quarter of 2021.

“Although the COVID-19 pandemic is having a more significant impact on certain countries or businesses than others, in fiscal year 2020 and in the first quarter of 2021, Vivendi has demonstrated resilience in adapting its activities to continue to best serve and entertain its customers, while reducing costs to preserve its margins,” said the company in its financial statement.

“The business activities demonstrated good resilience, in particular music and pay television. However, as expected, the other businesses such as Havas Group and Vivendi Village (in particular live entertainment) were affected by the pandemic’s effects,” added Vivendi.