The acquisition of Harmonix demonstrates MTV's commitment to music and furthers its strategy of engaging passionate music fans through a deep and immersive multi-platform entertainment experience. With the addition of Harmonix's strong music gaming titles, MTV will enhance its music-based universe of entertainment, news, gaming, and interactive content offerings, and increase audience engagement and time spent with the brand across all screens.
The announcement follows MTV Games' successful partnership, initiated in November 2005, to feature Harmonix's Guitar Hero franchise in original programming, creative promotions and competitions across a number of MTV's multi-platform properties. Guitar Hero, published by RedOctane/Activision, is among the top-selling PlayStation 2 games this year and has been honored with several accolades at the Interactive Achievement Awards, Game Developer Choice Awards, and other industry events. Guitar Hero 2 is scheduled for release this fall.
"The acquisition of Harmonix will deepen MTV's connection to its audience via on-line, mobile and console music gaming, and expand the relationship with both labels and artists through the creation of games based on classic songs as well as future album releases," said Christina Norman, President, MTV. "Harmonix's technology allows everyone to pursue their rock and roll fantasies, even people like me, with more musical ambition than actual talent."
"Harmonix is a wonderful addition to Viacom's tremendous collection of digital assets, and is precisely the type of transaction that will help us aggressively grow our digital business while maintaining strong fiscal discipline," said Philippe Dauman, President and CEO, Viacom Inc. "We're committed to a swift integration and look forward to helping Harmonix become even stronger with the support of the incredible marketing and creative power at MTV Networks."
"The acquisition of Harmonix advances MTV Networks' strategy of connecting with target audiences by creating immersive, multi-platform environments that extend to every device they use," said Judy McGrath, Chairman and CEO, MTV Networks. "Harmonix is an innovator in giving audiences new and dynamic ways to interact with music, and I couldn't be more excited to welcome the company into MTV Networks' strong portfolio of multi-platform brands."
Harmonix pioneered music and rhythm gaming with the introduction of Frequency in 2001 and Amplitude in 2003. These games won numerous accolades including one of Rolling Stone's "Best Console Games of 2003" and IGN's "Reader Top 10". The company also developed the Karaoke Revolution franchise, which turned singing into a competitive game. This title was named by TIME Magazine as the "#1 Video Game of 2003" and won Electronic Gaming Monthly's 2003 "Gaming Innovation of the Year" award.
"We are very excited to combine our unique assets in the music and gaming space with one of the most recognized brands in the music world. We look forward to continuing to create innovative ways for people to enjoy music," said Alex Rigopulos, Harmonix's CEO.
Mr. Rigopulos and other key employees will continue in their roles following the completion of the acquisition. Harmonix will join MTV Networks' Music and LOGO Enterprises unit, led by Jeff Yapp, Executive Vice President.
"Harmonix's talented team will be a powerful and important addition to MTV that brings enormous talent and expertise. All of us are excited to begin working with them to develop meaningful and creative ways to deliver music to our audience," said Mr. Yapp.
The transaction is expected to close in the 4th quarter of 2006, and is subject to certain customary conditions.