Fremantle Owner RTL’s Revenues, Profits Take a Hit Due to Weak Advertising Market

Revenues at Bertelsmann’s Luxembourg-based RTL Group, a media giant which owns Fremantle, dipped 5.2% to €6.2 billion ($6.7 billion) for the financial year 2023.

The company attributed this to lower TV advertising revenue and lower Fremantle revenue. The company’s EBITA (earnings before interest, taxes and amortization) slid to €782 million, down from €922 million in 2022.

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Fremantle, RTL’s content arm, had a strong year from an awards point of view, with its Element Pictures producing Golden Globe, BAFTA and Oscar winner “Poor Things.” However, revenue fell from €2.3 billion to €2.2 billion and EBITA from €162 million to €139 million. RTL is targeting full-year revenue of €3 billion for Fremantle by 2025/2026.

There was good news on other fronts. RTL Group’s family of TV channels in Germany increased its lead over main commercial competitor ProSiebenSat1 to 5.8 percentage points, the highest lead in the last 10 years, the company said. Paying subscribers for RTL Group’s streaming services in Germany, Hungary and France were up 30.5% to 5.6 million and streaming revenue up 72.6% to €283 million. Distribution revenue was stable at €331 million (2022: €332 million).

The company also said that following the envisaged disposal of the Dutch streaming service Videoland and the investments in M6+ in France, it has updated the targets for its streaming services RTL+ in Germany, M6+ in France and RTL+ in Hungary. By 2026, RTL aims to reach some nine million paying subscribers and €750 million of streaming revenue. The group plans to increase its content spend to €500 million and to become profitable by 2026.

Thomas Rabe, CEO of RTL Group, said: “In 2023, we demonstrated the resilience of our businesses in a particularly challenging environment. As announced, we invested through the cycle. We grew our streaming services, extended our market leadership positions, in particular in Germany, and released globally acclaimed content. The second half of 2023 was one of the most profitable half-years in the history of RTL Group despite weak advertising markets and significant investments, enabling us to pay an attractive dividend. Our shareholders will also benefit in 2025 from the value crystallised by the expected sale of RTL Nederland for €1.1 billion. Our strategic framework remains unchanged. It will continue to guide us in 2024: to strengthen our core businesses, to grow our streaming and content businesses, and to build alliances and partnerships.”

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