War Games Offset Music Decline For Vivendi

French entertainment and telecoms company Vivendi (EPA: VIV) has reported a strong first half, with record sales of its Activision (NSDQ: ATVI) Blizzard games division’s titles Call of Duty and World of Warcraft more than countering a 17% profits plunge at Universal Music Group.

Vivendi, which also owns assets including French pay-TV firm Canal+ and telecoms operator SFR, reported total revenues up 1.9% to €14.3bn (£.12.7bn).

Earnings before interest, tax and amortisation rose 3.7% to €3.36bn.

And adjusted net income, effectively profits after tax and interest, rose 20% to €1.8bn.

Activision Blizzard continued its strong run, with earnings up 34.4% year on year to €833m and revenues up 9% to €1.86bn in the first half.

Vivendi said that the strong performance was driven by “record digital sales of Activision Blizzard’s online-enabled franchises” which increased by “more than” 20% year on year in the first six months.

But Universal Music Group, home to acts including Lady Gaga, U2 and Take That, saw earnings before interest, tax and amortisation fall by 17% to €132m and revenue drop by 1.9% to €1.86bn in the first half.

The falls at least show improvement over the first quarter – where EBITA plunged 35% and revenues fell 5% – with the second quarter EBITA fell 5.5% and revenues declined 2.9%.

The company said that changes in the “sales mix” and restructuring charges were offset by operating cost savings and a $105m legal settlement between record companies and illegal filesharing service LimeWire in May.

It said that pre-orders for Modern Warfare 3 – expected to launch on 8 November – have already “significantly exceeded” the pre-orders for the big-selling Call of Duty: Black Ops at the same time last year.

This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.