The tyke web has remained the leading children’s channel since 1998, thanks in large part to Disney programming, but also to managing director Claude Schmit, who has built it into a well-rounded family channel rather than just a kids’ outlet.
Schmit has headed the web since 1998, making him the longest serving channel topper in Germany. Under his management, Cologne-based Super RTL has remained a cash cow for Disney and RTL, both of which own 50% stakes in the channel.
Even in times of economic turmoil, Super RTL has proven resilient due to its robust non-advertising revenue streams.
Some 25% of Super RTL’s total revenue comes from merchandising and online activities, including tyke-aimed websites like its subscription-based Toggolino.de and new Internet gaming platform Zaga.de.
Although Super RTL does not provide detailed financial information, the channel did generate some E250 million ($334 million) in gross ad sales last year.
As for its success with viewers, Super RTL’s programming is aimed at kids of all ages, from tots to teens. In its key 3-13 demo, Super RTL holds an average market share of 22.5%, ahead of rival webs Kinderkanal (KI.KA), with 20.4%, and Nickelodeon, which has 12.4%.
“KI.KA concentrates largely on small children, and Nickelodeon focuses on older boys,” Schmit says. “We offer something for everyone — as the market leader, we have to.”
In recent years the web’s initial focus on animation has given way to live-action fare, which continues to boom thanks to its Disney programming, Schmit says. “We now have a much broader portfolio.”
Schmit says Disney’s first generation of live action shows for kids, such as “Lizzie McGuire” and “That’s So Raven,” established a new children’s genre that continues strongly today with “Hannah Montana” and others.
“It’s a path that we have gladly taken because it’s helped differentiate us from other children’s channels in Germany,” he says, adding that it’s also provided Super RTL with trend-setting shows.
New live-action series include the upcoming Disney XD hit “Zeke and Luther,” about two pals looking to become skateboarding champs, and the Jonas Brothers’ Disney Channel sitcom “Jonas,” which makes its German free TV premiere on Super RTL in April. Both shows have been airing in Germany since late last year on Disney channels, available only on pay TV platform Sky Deutschland.
But the feevee service has just 2.47 million subscribers. By
contrast, Super RTL reaches nearly all of Germany’s 35 million TV households, making it Disney’s premiere outlet in the country for its child- and youth-oriented content.
While the hit live-action fare, which also includes Disney Channel favorites “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and “Wizards of Waverly Place,” attracts older kids, Super RTL also offers plenty of content for younger tykes.
Aardman Animation’s preschool series “Timmy Time” has become the latest hit among 3-to-5-year-old viewers, pulling in an impressive 50% share.
Long-running preschool shows like “Bob the Builder,” “Rupert Bear” and “Thomas and Friends” also have helped Super RTL attract a loyal following among the preschool demo.
Schmit says the wider programming portfolio has over the years transformed Super RTL into a family broadcaster.