Biz Briefs: Viacom to Acquire Xfire Gaming

May 1, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Viacom said last week that it reached a definitive agreement to acquire online gaming company Xfire for $102 million in cash as it looks to raise its profile in online video games. Viacom said that, as part of the MTV Networks unit, Xfire will benefit from boosted advertising revenue, and MTV’s global reach is expected to help increase Xfire’s membership. Xfire, which generates revenue from advertising, has around 4 million users, 1 million of whom are active gamers who use the service an average of 91 hours a month.

OLN Back on Dish Network Service

After a six-month absence, OLN, formerly known as Outdoor Life Network, returned to EchoStar Communications’ Dish Network last week, both sides having reached a multiyear carriage agreement. The pact, of which financial terms were not disclosed, ends a months-long stalemate that led to OLN’s removal from the Dish Network channel lineup last October. As a consequence of the new agreement, OLN was restored to Dish’s package of 180 channels. The fight began

in mid-October, when EchoStar claimed that OLN, which is owned by cable giant Comcast, failed to furnish the satellite operator with games from the National Hockey League.

Stewart Media Company Narrows Loss in Q1

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia said last week that it posted a narrowed first-quarter loss of $6.8 million, or 13 cents per share, compared with year-earlier red ink of $19.2 million, or 37 cents a share. Revenue during the quarter soared 60 percent to $61.8 million from $38.7 million a year earlier. The growth was fueled by higher advertising revenue at the company’s magazine business as well as growth at the television division, which reported first-quarter revenue of $11.3 million, up from $800,000 a year ago, due to the daily syndicated show “Martha” and revenue derived from the Martha Stewart

Living Radio channel on Sirius Satellite Radio. Those factors helped the TV unit narrow its first-quarter loss to $300,000 from a year-ago loss of $2.3 million.

Quadrangle to Buy Stake in Cable Operator

Quadrangle Group, a private-equity firm with a history of investing in the media industry, said last week it will pay $150 million to acquire a 17 percent stake in privately held cable operator Cebridge Connections Holdings. As part of the investment, which will be made by the Quadrangle Capital Partners II fund, the private-equity firm will obtain two seats on Cebridge’s 11-member board of directors. The investment comes as St. Louis-based Cebridge completes its purchase of cable systems from Cox Communications and Charter Communications. The Cox deal involves 869,000 basic subscribers and is expected to close in May. The Charter transaction involves 240,000 basic subscribers and is expected to be completed in the third quarter. Once both deals are completed, Cebridge will become a top 10 cable operator, with around 1.4 million basic subscribers. Cebridge, Cox and Charter did not provide financial terms on the cable system acquisitions. Cebridge was founded in 2003 by a group of cable industry veterans that included Charter co-founder Jerald Kent, who now serves as Cebridge’s CEO. Following the completion of the Charter and Cox deals, Cebridge will change its name to Suddenlink Communications. New York-based Quadrangle Capital Partners, which has around $5 billion in assets under management, invests in a number of media properties and currently owns stakes in cable operators Cablevision Systems and Bresnan Communications, as well as a number of broadband companies and a movie theater chain.