German Operations and FremantleMedia Drive 2017 Profits at RTL Group

The performance of RTL in Germany and of production and distribution group FremantleMedia were key profit drivers for the RTL Group in 2017.

Group-wide revenues and profit were up at the European broadcast and media giant in tough market conditions. Overall revenues increased 2.2%, taking the total to €6.4 billion ($8 billion), with RTL Deutschland turning in a strong performance in a challenging ad market. Company-wide EBIDTA profit was up 3.8% at €1.5 billion. RTL Nederland and RTL Belgium, however, both reported revenue and profit reverses.

Digital revenues grew at a fast clip, up 23% year-on-year at €826 million.

Revenues were down 2% at FremantleMedia at €1.47 billion, which RTL blamed on unfavorable exchange rates, but it posted an 8.5% increase in EBITDA profit of €140 million in 2017. It scored a major win in the U.S. with the ABC network reviving “American Idol” for its 2017-18 TV season; the new show starts Sunday. It has also continued to push heavily into high-end drama.

“In 2017, we continued to diversify our creative pipeline, with a bold and ambitious scripted strategy,” said FremantleMedia CEO Cecile Frot-Coutaz. “Producing innovative and scalable programming, maintaining the highest production values and partnering with the best creatives in the business remained a priority, and has allowed us to deliver strong profit growth in a highly competitive market.”

Bert Habets took sole control of RTL at end-2017 when previous co-CEO Guillaume de Posch exited that role. The company said its markets are defined by competition, consolidation, convergence, and complexity, and Habets said in that environment it will ramp up its investment in digital services, which it organizes under the Total Video moniker.

“To tap into this significant growth potential, we will increase investment in our on-demand services in the countries where we have strong families of channels,” Habets said. “The launch of new services in Belgium, Hungary and Croatia over the next few months is the first example. We will also continue to build and develop our multi-platform networks and our investments in ad-tech.”

Habets added that FremantleMedia’s scripted TV push is opening up new revenue streams with the streamers. “FremantleMedia will continue its successful push into high-end drama production, in all key countries. And with this push, also the streaming platforms become meaningful clients for FremantleMedia, as recently demonstrated with ‘American Gods’ and ‘Deutschland 86,’” both of which go out on Amazon Prime Video in various territories.

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