RTL Resets its Streaming Expectations After Selling Dutch Business

Tim Cross 14 March, 2024 

European broadcasting giant RTL Group has reset its targets for its overall streaming business, having agreed to sell its Dutch arm RTL Nederland to DPG Media last year for €1.1 billion. And while RTL expects streaming revenues to drive a return to growth this year, following a dip in total revenues last year, the reworked targets make it harder to judge the group’s streaming progress.

RTL’s previous headline targets for streaming were to reach 10 million paying subscribers and €1 billion in streaming revenues in 2026, while also aiming for profitability by this point. Now, having sold off RTL Nederland and its Videoland streaming services, these targets have been lowered to 9 million paying subscribers and €750 million in revenues.

This change makes it hard to read into the current growth rate of RTL’s streaming business. Reported growth for 2023 was 72.6 percent, with total streaming revenues up from €164 million in 2022 to €283 million – an impressive growth rate. But 2023’s figure includes French service 6Play for the first time, making it hard to judge the revenue growth generated by RTL+ in Germany and RTL+ in Hungary.

These existing services certainly are growing. In Germany, RTL+’s paying subscriber count was up 23 percent to over 4.9 million, driven in part by a strategic partnership with Deutsche Telekom to bundle RTL+ Premium in the telco’s Magenta TV offering. RTL+ was the most used streaming service in Germany last year, in terms of usage time per user, according to Germany’s TV measurement body GfK.

But it certainly seems that strategic changes have pushed back RTL’s streaming roadmap, at least a bit. While RTL’s previous streaming targets included Videoland, which it no longer owns, they didn’t include M6+ (the revamped version of 6Play set to launch later this year). The French service should, in theory, be more than able to make up for the shortfall left by Videoland, yet RTL’s revenue target has been lowered by 25 percent. This may simply be due to M6 not having been a priority for streaming investment until recently, since RTL was hoping to sell the business to TF1.

Plenty of work still to be done

These new streaming targets, and the fact that disposing of Videoland and bringing in M6+ may have allowed RTL to quietly moderate its streaming ambitions, give RTL some breathing room. But there’s still a lot of work to do to hit these targets.

Streaming revenue will have to nearly triple over the next three years in order to reach €750 million in 2026. The launch of M6 may provide a big boost here, but the broadcaster will have to look to grow its user base in Germany and Hungary too, while continuing to drive up revenue per user.

The business does seem confident that it can continue to drive meaningful streaming growth. Total revenues for RTL Group were down 5.4 percent this year (discounting RTL Nederland), or 4.1 percent on an organic basis, due in large part to a challenging TV ad market. This year however RTL forecasts 6 percent growth, and it says this will mainly be driven by streaming growth in Germany, as well as recovery in its Fremantle production arm.

RTL’s recently announced deal with Germany broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 should help fuel further streaming ad revenue growth, encouraging more spend into RTL+ in Germany and Joyn, ProSieben’s streaming service, by making it easier to invest and run campaigns across the two services.

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About the Author:

Tim Cross is Assistant Editor at VideoWeek.
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