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Viacom Buys Online Gamer

Looking to increase its online market share of the youth demo, Viacom has acquired the online gaming technology company, Xfire, for $102 million in cash.

The ad-supported network hosts four million subscribers for its game-enhancing instant messenger and social networking services.

Two-year-old Xfire becomes the second major online gaming acquisition for Viacom in recent months, joining broadband video company Gametrailers, which the company acquired in November. 

Xfire will become part of Viacom’s MTV Networks unit. Its game-boosting technologies, including features that let online gamers share media, will be incorporated into MTVN’s existing online assets.

Viacom has been invested in “tuck-in” acquisitions, smaller buys that work with its portfolios of existing companies, since before its split from CBS at the end of last year.

In December, the company tapped a former head of mergers & acquisitions for investment banker ThinkEquity partners to be senior VP of mergers and acquisitions for Viacom, scoping out possible companies to acquire. Particularly interested in growing its digital footprint, Viacom has pointed to, the virtual pet community it bought last year, as an ideal “tuck-in” acquisition.