Viacom's MTV Networks Buys Social Express to Expand in Social Gaming Space

Viacom Inc.’s MTV Networks bought social gaming company Social Express Inc., marking its first move in a space that’s helped sites like Facebook Inc. reel in users.

MTV, which owns online gaming sites such as Shockwave.com, will create games with original content as well as shows and characters from its networks, according to a statement today. It also plans to start a platform for independent game developers. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Social games on Facebook, like Zynga Game Network Inc.’s “Farmville,” get 90 percent of their users to return daily, according to a survey by researcher Inside Network. San Francisco-based Social Express will become part of Nickelodeon Digital, beefing up games for its kids and family group, MTV said.

The first game will be introduced this quarter, MTV said.

Viacom, based in New York and controlled by Chairman Sumner Redstone, rose 39 cents to $33.04 at 4:02 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The Class B shares have climbed 11 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Katie Hoffmann in New York at khoffmann4@bloomberg.net

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