Vivendi Revenues up on Strength of Universal Music Group

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Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish and the 'Star Is Born' soundtrack were big sellers for the company as it saw losses in the film and TV divisions.

Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish helped boost the bottom line for France's Vivendi, with the entertainment conglomerate's revenues up nearly 14 percent to $8.1 billion on the strength of its music division in half-yearly results released Thursday.

Revenues at Universal Music Group were up 18.4 percent, to $3.7 billion, with significant growth in subscription and streaming services. The over 25 percent growth in those services and a jump in physical sales of 15 percent more than offset the nearly 20 percent decline in download sales.

Grande's new Thank U, Next and Eilish's debut album were cited as big sellers, as were continued sales of the A Star Is Born soundtrack and a resurgence in popularity of older albums from Queen.

Merchandise sales were also up a steep 82.3 percent, mostly from touring and direct-to-consumer sales, the company said.

Vivendi is moving forward with plans to sell up to half of UMG to strategic partners, but failed to unveil the investment banks it is working with as expected. The division, also home to Taylor Swift, Drake, Post Malone and Lady Gaga, is valued at up to $50 million.

The news was not as rosy in the film and TV divisions of CanalPlus Group.

France's once dominant pay-TV giant saw a small dip in revenues, down 2.2 percent, as it continues subscriber losses in its home country. Its being buoyed by growth on the international side, with subscriptions up 45,000 in the last year, as revenue in France falls.

Vivendi cited its recent moves to expand internationally, acquiring European pay-TV service M7 with its 20 million subscribers as well as Nollywood's IROKO Group as it makes inroads in Africa, as areas of growth it seeks to stem the French losses.

And without a big tentpole like Paddington 2 this year, StudioCanal also saw a drop in revenues, the company said without revealing numbers.

Its Gameloft division was down 5.2 percent to $148 million, with OTT sales across Apple, Google and Microsoft platforms down, but signature titles including Disney Magic Kingdom and the Asphalt franchise were up 15 percent on mobile. It's doubling down on Disney, and will launch two new games under the label, Vivendi said.

Revenues at its event ticketing division were also up a solid 30 percent to $36.7 million.

The division that houses DailyMotion saw a small bump, up 8.5 percent to $38 million, touting growth on the YouTube competitor in the premium content space with partners including the NBA and publishing groups Hearst and Meredith.