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Fremantle Owner RTL Group Forms New Unscripted Formats Unit

RTL has created a new unit that will work up unscripted formats exclusively for broadcasters and streaming services in the group. Fremantle, which is a major force in unscripted, is part of the RTL Group, and makes shows for RTL and third parties. The new Format Creation Group will develop ideas exclusively for in-house outlets. It will focus on factual entertainment and reality shows.

Broadcasters in the RTL Group include RTL in Germany and M6 in France. The French broadcaster’s boss, Nicolas de Tavernost, was a driving force in the creation of the new division.

“We have noted that successful programs in France also often work well in Germany, the Netherlands or Spain,” the M6 chief said. “And that a format that is a flop in one country is generally also a flop in the other European countries. With this new development unit, we now have the opportunity to share our experiences and our energy at a European level in order to become ever more innovative.”

Based in Hilversum in the Netherlands, the Format Creation Group will be led by former TV host and RTL Nederland exec Matthias Scholten. He will put together a team of about six people, who will likely be pulled from within and outside the group.

About 10% of Fremantle’s business comes from the RTL broadcasters, and several of its biggest properties – such as “Got Talent” with Simon Cowell’s Syco – are co-owned. The Format Creation Group will fully own the IP it creates. Fremantle is expected to bring the ideas to market beyond the RTL territories through its distribution unit. Fremantle production companies are also likely to make shows that get greenlit.

As big free-to-air players, the RTL channels have historically been at the front of the line for new unscripted fare, but as Netflix and other streamers also fight for exclusive shows, there is fierce competition, which is another reason to double-down on in-house production. Across the RTL Group, the annual content spend is about $3.9 billion.

“Strengthening our core business by further increasing our program investments and by exploring all possible ways to develop and own new hit formats is one of our strategic priorities,” said Thomas Rabe, CEO of RTL Group. “This is what FC Group is all about: a place of autonomy where creativity and bold ideas can thrive.”

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