Earnings: Vivendi Plans Entertainment Portal; Universal Slides Despite Digital Doubling

Vivendi (EPA: VIV) will this week test a “content and services platform” website that, whilst secretive, could be a direct-to-consumer online TV outlet. “Zaoza”, “a major project”, will be “a platform for a huge number of users”, with “some element of social networking”, “a wide range of entertainment products” and availability over mobile (via Telecommunications magazine). Thomson: “Observers have seen the project as an attempt by Vivendi to compete with the likes of Google’s (NSDQ: GOOG) YouTube and News Corp’s MySpace by drawing on content from Vivendi units such as pay-TV operator Canal Plus and mobile phone network SFR.”

Levy in September spoke out against rates employed by Apple’s (NSDQ: AAPL) iTunes Store – which NBC Universal, (NYSE: GE) in which it has a 20 percent stake, was set to pull out of – and a recent restructure of NBC Universal International emphasised direct sell-through opportunities.

Music: In earnings for the nine months to September 30, Universal Music Group (UMG) saw digital sales grow 47 percent on last year to 488 million euros and they now make up 15 percent of all the label’s revenue (up from 11 percent). But overall UMG earnings before tax, interest and amortisation (EBITA) for Q3 was down 16.7 percent to 115 million euros (and down 26 percent to 335 million euros over the nine months)

France: At Canal+, pay TV revenue is up 24 percent to 551 euros for the nine months thanks mainly to the recent acquisition of the TPS platform. In the telco SFR, mobile revenue crept up one percent to 6.54 billion euros and data revenues were up 3.9 percent on growth in MMS; music, TV and gaming content; and mobile internet services, all of which now comprise 13.2 percent of service revenue.

Games: World Of Warcraft continues to be a cash cow. Expansion packs released early in the year helped Vivendi Games Q3 EBITA up 70.8 percent to 41 million euros.

Overall, underlying Q3 group profit rose 2.7 percent to 1.335 billion euros.

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