No. 21: RTL Group

Luxembourg

Revenues: $3.676 billion

Profit: $61 million

If there’s a vote of confidence to be had in the broadcasting world, then RTL Group got it earlier this year. German media giant Bertelsmann was prepared to give up a 25% stake in itself in order to obtain a larger chunk of RTL Group (30%, giving it a majority share).

Once a random collection of European channels with a glaring lack of production subsidiaries, RTL has established itself as a force to be reckoned with: Revenues are up nearly 15% and RTL’s production biz has been transformed by last year’s merger with U.K. production giant Pearson Television (which was recently renamed FremantleMedia). The larger Pearson group, now chiefly a publishing concern (and thus no longer eligible for a spot on our list of the top 50 entertainment companies), still holds a 22% stake in RTL.

RTL Group often has been rumored to be eyeing Telefonica subsid Endemol Entertainment (producers of “Big Brother”), which would further diversify its production operation.

The group recently merged its sports-rights activities with Canal Plus and Jean-Claude Darmon to form an entity with annual revenues of 570 million euros ($518 million).

With 24 TV channels and 18 radio stations in 10 countries, RTL also is making a concerted effort to synergize. One project involves using its broadcasters to test out new productions from Pearson. Another idea is to bring together its channels to back a proposed film/licensing division to be built out of its sales and co-production arm CLT/Ufa Intl.

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