RTL Grows Ad Revenues in Further Signs of European TV Recovery

Dan Meier 08 May, 2024 

RTL has posted double-digit growth in its earnings for Q1 2024, continuing a bounceback in the European TV ad market. Group revenues were up 2.6 percent YoY, totalling €1.3 billion. The German broadcasting giant noted the gains were primarily driven by TV advertising and streaming revenues.

Total ad revenues across the group, which includes RTL’s radio, print and TV operations, increased 10.1 percent YoY, reaching €686 million during the quarter. And TV made up the lion’s share of ad revenues at €528 million, also rising by 10 percent YoY. Digital ad revenues and radio/print also rose in comparison to Q1 2023, reaching €80 million and €77 million, respectively.

RTL noted that its group revenue gains were partly offset by lower content revenues during the first three months of 2024. Fremantle, the company’s content business, saw revenues fall 9.2 percent YoY, totalling €395 million. But the group put this down to “timing effects in the UK, Italy and Germany”, with expenses and the realisations of those investments differing between markets.

There were brighter signs for the streaming business, where revenues climbed 41 percent YoY to hit €86 million. RTL cited an uptick in paying subscribers and increased subscription prices in Germany. The combined subscriber count for RTL’s streaming services (RTL+ in Germany and Hungary, and 6play in France) totalled 6 million at the end of March 2024, represening a 24.2 percent YoY increase.

Meanwhile M6, the French broadcaster owned by RTL, will launch its new streaming service, M6+, on 15th May 2024. The commercial broadcaster has announed plans to invest €100 million in the new service, and has additionally secured the exclusive free-to-air rights for the majority of FIFA World Cup matches in 2026 and 2030.

Gaining ground

RTL also grew its audience share for its target demographics, according to the broadcaster. RTL Deutschland’s audience share in the main commercial target group (ages 14-59) rose to 28.1 percent. The company said this gives it an 8 percent lead over rival broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1.

“RTL Group has started strongly and in line with our expectations into 2024,” said RTL Group CEO Thomas Rabe. “We have strengthened our leading audience and advertising positions in Germany and continued the dynamic growth of our streaming business. Our first-quarter results confirm our strategy of investing through the cycle.”

“RTL Group is looking forward to an eventful second quarter, with RTL Deutschland and Groupe M6 broadcasting UEFA Euro 2024 matches,” he added. “In addition, M6+ will launch in France next week and Fremantle will deliver season two of The Responder, the new thriller series Nightsleeper and season 19 of America’s Got Talent.”

And the company confirmed its full-year outlook for 2024, projecting revenues around €6.6 billion, compared with €6.2 billion for 2023. The forecast is based on rising revenues at RTL Deutschland, mainly driven by its streaming business, alongside growth at Fremantle, owing to recovery in the US market and the effects of its acquisitions. Fremantle recently acquired an 80 percent stake in Asian production company Beach House Pictures, as well as the French studio Asacha Media Group.

The group warned that volatility in the geopolitical and macroeconomic environment makes the impact on RTL’s businesses hard to predict, but highlighted a “slight recovery of the German TV advertising market and broadly stable advertising markets in the Group’s other territories.”

Alongside other European broadcasters, the results suggest a recovery in the ad market at the start of 2024. However, RTL’s double-digit growth in TV revenues are notably higher than MFE, ProSieben and Viaplay, which all reported around 6 percent YoY increases in their Q1 earnings.

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