is weighing on Viacom's margins, and the profitability challenge confronting the high-cost Beatles
iteration is steep, says MTV parent Viacom.
In its most recent fiscal quarter, the company saw profits reach $463 million, an increase of about $62 million year-over-year thanks primarily to its cost conservativism and its Paramount Pictures division, although overall sales were down 3 percent to $3.3 billion.
However, company CFO Tom Dooley said the company's video games were no help: "Rock Band
was a negative contributor to margins in the third quarter," he said on the company's conference call to investors, as reported by the Los Angeles Times
"We expect it to break even or be slightly profitable in the fourth quarter from a margin point of view," added Dooley. "It really depends on how many units we sell in the holiday season."
According to the report, Rock Band
dragged down its division's operating margin from 40 percent to 36 percent. CEO Philippe Dauman said that soft sales of other products offset Beatles
' launch, which he described as "great" and said "the economics of our Rock Band
franchise are improving" -- but added that improvements are not coming "as quickly as we'd like."
The company chose to release two The Beatles: Rock Band
packages -- one instrument bundle and one software-only. The game itself is compatible with almost every existing instrument peripheral, a move aimed at selling more software copies at $60 that might otherwise be prohibited by the $100 bundle cost.
According to NPD results, the bundle and the stand-alone collectively sold 595,000 software-only and instrument-bundled units across Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii, a solid launch number, but short of some analysts' million-unit expectations.
Those analysts now see an underperforming music genre as an ominous bellwether
for holiday sales and as possible evidence of a highly cash-strapped consumer.