Listen to (and share) episode 61 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. Deadline’s financial editor talks with host David Bloom about the latest potential entrant, Cox Communications, in the cable TV consolidation sweepstakes that seem to be just about to take off via Time Warner Cable; the uncertain future of DVR maker TiVo despite a terrific quarter; a surprising shakeup at the top of No. 2 event company AEG Live; and a whole new game for Take-Two Interactive, which weeks after the billion-dollar debut of Grand Theft Auto V has bought out investor Carl Icahn, sparking analyst concerns that its stock price has peaked.
The price is down 4% to $16.26 in mid-day trading after the gamemaker reported the deal to pay the activist investor $16.93 a share for his 12.02M shares — bringing the total number of Take-Two Interactive shares outstanding down to 81M. CEO Strauss Zelnick says that the agreement “reflects our confidence in the Company’s outlook for record results” in the current fiscal year, and leaves Take-Two with enough cash “to pursue a variety of investment opportunities, including repurchasing our Company’s stock.” But some may wonder whether Carl Icahn‘s exiting because he senses that things have peaked for the company behind titles including Grand Theft Auto, Borderlands, and Duke Nukem. Shares are up 31% over the last 12 months but have slipped about 14% since late August. Cowen and Co analyst Doug Creutz downgraded Take-Two to “market perform” last week saying that every major title the company has shipped in recent years “has been delayed at least once, sometimes for multiple years.” It also faces “a significantly uphill battle next year against a crowded industry release slate” which includes Titanfall, Destiny, Call Of Duty, Halo, and Assassin’s Creed.
UPDATE, 12:01 PM: Call Of Duty might want to go back to basic training. Grand Theft Auto V has now made more than $1 billion in worldwide retail sales in just three days. That’s a target that previous record holder Call Of Duty: Black Ops II took 15 days to hit after its November 2012 release. Already shattering the previous first day sales record and beating Man Of Steel with its $800 million opening, the latest installment in Rockstar Game’s GTA franchise has now surpassed No. 2 movie of the year so far Despicable Me 2‘s $840 million global box office. The game is now creeping up on 2013′s top movie Iron Man 3′s $1.2 billion worldwide take.
PREVIOUSLY, WEDNESDAY PM: Looks like the fictional LA of Los Santos left Call Of Duty and Superman in the dust. First-day sales of Grand Theft Auto V pulled in a record $800 million worldwide, according to publisher Take-Two Interactive. Released Tuesday, the latest version of the ultra-violent franchise soundly beat previous first-day record holder Call Of Duty: Black Ops II, which sold $500M on its first day last November.