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Increased game sales 'partly offset' Warner Bros' revenue decline


The precise impact of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment on big daddy Time Warner's bottom line is pretty obscured. WBIE is a division within a division of the media behemoth, which didn't bother to include a line for "video games" in its first-quarter earnings report. Though the company did manage to share a few positive words about its game-making sub-division.

Nestled somewhere underneath Time Warner's "Filmed Entertainment" umbrella (a.k.a. Warner Bros.), WBIE apparently performed admirably for a division that ultimately suffered declining revenues. Filmed Entertainment, which encompasses feature film, television, home video and "interactive game production and distribution" (that's video games!), saw its revenues slide 3 percent to $2.6 billion in the first three months of 2011, as compared to the prior-year first quarter. More noticeable was the division's 50 percent plunge to $155 million in "adjusted" operating income for the period.

However, Time Warner noted in its report that "declines were partly offset" by "higher video games revenues," in addition to other factors relating to television. While it's impossible to parse out video game sales from what's dubbed "other content" in the earnings breakdown, this category did show the biggest year-over-year percentage growth of all content in the Filmed Entertainment division, even if its dollar-amount revenues were a fraction of theatrical and television products' hauls.

Notably, Time Warner indicated that first-quarter game sales were "driven by Lego Star Wars 3: The Clone Wars," which was developed by Traveller's Tales, part of WBIE subsidiary TT Games. The game is published by LucasArts.

As for Time Warner's outlook on Filmed Entertainment for the rest of the year, CEO Jeff Bewkes said during the earnings call, "With our strong film slate, the momentum in our TV business and several promising games, we continue to expect Warner will post record profits this year." Would it have killed him to namedrop Mortal Kombat and the next Batman? Jeez.

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