Europe’s Top TV Network RTL Group Keeps Revenue Stable, Buoyed by German Biz

LONDON — Europe’s top entertainment business, RTL Group, kept revenue stable in 2014 at €5.81 billion ($6.42 billion), the company reported Thursday. EBITA was steady too, at €1.15 billion ($1.27 billion), buoyed by a profit hike at its German operations, Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland.

Higher revenue from Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland and acquisitions was offset by lower advertising sales in France, the effect of the disposal of the French e-commerce service Mistergooddeal, and lower revenue from its production business FremantleMedia and UFA Sports.

Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland scored its best financial result ever, with EBITA up 5% to €650 million ($718 million). This was mainly driven by significantly higher TV advertising revenue in the second half of the year and a growing digital distribution business.

The French net TV advertising market was stable in 2014. The EBITA of French broadcaster Groupe M6 rose slightly to €209 million ($231 million). Dutch broadcaster RTL Nederland’s EBITA was steady at €103 million ($114 million), while the EBITA of RTL Belgium was solid at €46 million ($50.8 million).

RTL Hungary reported an EBITA loss of €1 million ($1.1 million), mainly due to a punitive advertising tax, which came into effect in August.

FremantleMedia’s EBITA fell 17% to €113 million ($125 million), which was due to the cancellation of “The X Factor” in the U.S., lower revenue from “American Idol,” and increased investments in digital businesses and the content pipeline.

RTL Group’s digital growth strategy saw strong progress, with revenue from digital up 26.6% to €295 million ($326 million), benefitting from organic growth and acquisitions. RTL Group has developed massive scale in online video. In 2014 RTL Group’s catch-up TV services, websites and MCNs attracted 36.4 billion online video views, up 117% year-on-year, and FremantleMedia’s 216 YouTube channels attracted 9 billion views, up 35% year-on-year.

In a joint statement, Anke Schäferkordt and Guillaume de Posch, co-chief executive officers of RTL Group, said: “Despite challenging environments in France and Hungary, RTL Group once again delivered a very strong set of financial results.”

They added: “We made significant progress in implementing our strategy across broadcast, content and digital. We successfully launched three new TV channels and further established a second revenue stream from platform operators, which delivers high growth rates and profit margins. We invested more than €240 million ($265 million) in rapidly growing digital businesses. This is the highest investment level for acquisitions since 2005.”

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