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RTL Q1 dips on American Idol absence

European broadcaster RTL Group has announced its quarterly results for the period ended March 31st 2017.

Group revenue was down 1.9 per cent to €1,405 million (Q1/2016: €1,432 million), solely due to the absence of American Idol on the US network Fox in 2017 which more than compensated higher revenue from Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, Groupe M6 and the dynamically growing digital business. Adjusted for the American Idol effect, RTL Group continued to grow by around 4 per cent, in line with the full-year guidance.

  • Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland’s EBITDA was stable at €168 million (Q1/2016: €169 million)
  • At Groupe M6, EBITDA decreased to €76 million (Q1/2016: €90 million), reflecting lower EBITDA contributions from SND and the football club Girondins de Bordeaux, partly compensated by higher TV advertising
  • FremantleMedia’s EBITDA decreased to €13 million (Q1/2016: €19 million), mainly due to phasing effects and the absence of American Idol (the show’s final season on US network Fox was mainly aired in Q1/2016)
  • RTL Nederland’s EBITDA was down to €1 million (Q1/2016: €3 million), mainly due to lower TV advertising sales

A joint statement from Bert Habets and Guillaume de Posch, Co-Chief Executive Officers of RTL Group read: “Following the exceptionally strong first quarter 2016 with an early Easter, we have returned to regular business in the first quarter of 2017. Nonetheless, our profitability remains on a high level and we will continue to significantly invest in digital and content.

As stated in prior years, the first quarter is not necessarily an indicator for the full year. This is especially true for FremantleMedia. We can only emphasise once more that the content business cannot be managed on a quarterly basis. The launch of American Gods on the US pay-TV channel Starz and on Amazon Prime Video in more than 200 territories will have a positive impact on FremantleMedia’s revenue in Q2. RTL Group maintains its outlook for the full year 2017 and expects total Group revenue to increase moderately and EBITDA to be broadly stable.

We are excited about the launch of American Gods, which is one of FremantleMedia’s signature productions in 2017 and the second major project coming out of the company’s push into drama, following The Young Pope in 2016. Looking at the show’s exceptional audience shares on Starz and great praise from fans and critics alike, FremantleMedia once more created must-see television. Just a few days ago, they announced that American Idol, one of the most iconic shows in TV history, will come back on the US network ABC. Both are proof of what we have said before: exclusive content is the power engine for everything we do in the total video universe.”

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