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Viacom Acquires Xfire

by Rainier on April 24, 2006 @ 2:22 p.m. PDT

Viacom today announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire online gaming community Xfire, Inc. for $102 million in cash.

The acquisition brings Viacom and its MTV Networks unit the premier community that connects online gamers. Xfire and its users fit squarely into the Company’s multiplatform strategy to build an engaging universe of music, gaming, entertainment, news, networking and interactivity for focused audiences. As part of MTV Networks, Xfire will be better able to maximize its advertising revenues through more aggressive marketing, greater global penetration and comprehensive integration with the Company’s other digital and cable properties that address the gaming demographic.

Launched in 2004, Xfire has four million registered members who use its software. Its one million active users average 91 hours per month, with an average session length of over three hours. The robust, ad-supported Xfire application supports hundreds of the latest PC games and provides social networking, instant messaging and information for online gamers. In addition, the Xfire application provides traffic to its popular website, featuring forums and gaming downloads.

Tom Freston, President and Chief Executive Officer of Viacom, said, “On both a strategic and an economic level, this is a terrific deal for Viacom. Xfire is far and away the leading PC gaming communications and community platform, has outstanding management, and is a perfect fit with our growing digital businesses at MTV Networks. It's a bull's eye against our young audiences, and meets our strict financial targets.”

Judy McGrath, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MTV Networks, said, “Online gaming is an intensely social phenomenon, with millions of young adults around the globe interacting constantly, not only to play, but also to share information and evaluate games. Xfire is the leading gamer community platform, and we look forward to integrating its services and user base into our multi-platform strategy at MTV Networks, which already includes assets like Neopets, GameTrailers, iFilm and more. We are thrilled to welcome Mike Cassidy, Chris Kirmse, Adam Boyden and the rest of Xfire’s management team to the table.”

Mike Cassidy, Chief Executive Officer of Xfire, said, “We can think of no better home for Xfire than MTV Networks, a company that’s as user-obsessed as we are. We look forward to working together with a shared commitment to giving teens and young adults the best in digital entertainment, and the operational flexibility to maintain the integrity of the Xfire brand for our users. Having the benefit of MTV Networks’ marketing expertise and the power of their brands behind us will allow us to reach more users in more countries, across more platforms. We’re excited to work with Judy McGrath and everyone at MTV Networks to continue to deliver even more for our members.”

Xfire has a distinct combination of tools, including:

  • Friend List for Gamers – Users can see when their gamer friends are online and what games they are playing.
  • One-Click Join – Users can see what games their friends are playing and use the one-click join feature to play alongside their friends instantly.
  • Xfire In-Game Messaging – Xfire users can send and receive instant messages while playing in many games without having to minimize or leave the game.
  • Stats Tracking – Through automatically updated player profiles, Xfire displays what games users are playing and how many hours they have played them.
  • File Downloads – Xfire’s file download system delivers demos, patches, trailers, and other files to users via a closed peer-to-peer distribution system.
  • Voice Chat – Allows gamers to talk to each other over a private peer-to-peer chat network.

Xfire will join MTV Networks’ other targeted digital properties, such as Neopets, Parents Connect, GoCityKids.com, iFilm and GameTrailers.com and its broadband networks, MTV’s Overdrive, Nickelodeon’s Turbo Nick, VH1’s VSPOT, mtvU Über and Comedy Central’s MotherLoad. MTV Networks also has more than 90 branded websites across the globe.

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