Pan-European broadcaster RTL Group’s quarterly numbers for the first three months of 2021 show group revenue up 3.9 per cent organically year on year, with reported Group revenue down 4.2 per cent to €1.404 billion ascribed to scope effects and negative exchange rate effects.
Thomas Rabe, Chief Executive Officer of RTL Group, says: “Our streaming services TV Now and Videoland accelerated their growth, adding more than half a million new paying subscribers in the first three months of the year. This demonstrates how our streaming investments in content, marketing and technology – and our strategic partnerships – boost our progress towards creating national streaming champions. With new high-end drama series and a broad portfolio of entertainment shows, our global content business, Fremantle, had a strong start to the year.”
“Driven by our streaming and content production business, RTL Group’s revenue was up by almost 4 per cent organically in the first quarter – although lockdown measures led to lower TV advertising revenue. We see strong growth of our TV advertising revenue across our footprint for the second quarter of the year and confirm our outlook for the full year 2021.”
“As stated before, there is a strong case for consolidation in the European broadcasting industry. We are currently reviewing such options for our broadcasting businesses in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, with a view to creating value for our shareholders. There can be no certainty that this may lead to any type of agreement or transaction.”
Streaming revenue from TV Now and Videoland was up 40.5 per cent to €52 million (Q1/2020: €37 million), thanks to the rapidly growing number of subscribers.
RTL Group estimates that the net TV advertising markets were down year on year in Germany and the Netherlands in Q1/2021, while the French TV advertising market was slightly up after strong growth in the month of March.
At the end of March 2021, RTL Group registered 2.72 million paying subscribers for its streaming services TV Now in Germany and Videoland in the Netherlands, up 71 per cent year on year (end of March 2020: 1.59 million).
Paying subscribers for TV Now doubled year on year to 1.718 million (end of March 2020: 0.857 million). The strategic partnership with Deutsche Telekom to bundle TV Now Premium in Magenta TV contributed significantly to the growth
Paying subscribers for Videoland grew 38 per cent year on year to 1.006 million (end of March 2020: 0.728 million)
In March 2021, Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland and Deutsche Telekom agreed on the sub-licensing of exclusive rights to 17 UEFA Euro 2024 matches, as part of the companies’ strategic partnership announced in November 2020. The agreement covers the broadcast of 14 group phase matches, two rounds of 16 finals and one quarter-final exclusively on free-to-air TV on RTL Television and live streaming on TV Now. Extensive highlights, on-demand and news access rights are also included in the package, enabling Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland to report on all 51 Uefa Euro 2024 matches across all channels and platforms.
In March 2021, Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland and Sky Deutschland announced an agreement for closer collaboration in the areas of streaming and content. TV Now Premium will be available via an upselling option on the Sky Q platform from mid-2021, increasing the potential reach of TV Now by more than 2.5 million Sky Q customers. As part of the agreement, Sky exclusively sublicenses Formula One free-to-air rights to Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland. The main channel RTL Television will live broadcast four Formula One races per season. The agreement, initially concluded for two years, also includes extensive news access rights, enabling the German RTL family of channels to report on Formula One across all channels.
In March 2021, Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland announced a binding agreement with its current joint venture partner, The Walt Disney Company, to acquire the outstanding 50 per cent shareholding in Super RTL. The transaction – which is subject to approval from the German and Austrian competition authorities – will take RTL Group’s shareholding in Super RTL to 100 per cent.
On April 30th 2021, RTL Group closed the transaction to sell its US ad-tech company SpotX to Magnite. As part of the transaction, RTL Group received $640 million (€528 million) in cash and 12.37 million shares of Magnite stock. Based on the closing price of Magnite stock as at 29 April 2021, the agreement implies an enterprise value (100 per cent) for SpotX of $1.14 billion (€942 million). SpotX continued its strong business performance in Q1/2021 with revenue up around 50 per cent.