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RTL looking to VOD revamp and digital originals to fuel growth

Commercial broadcaster RTL is looking to a combination of video-on-demand and production outfit Fremantle’s push into scripted drama to fuel growth after posting solid Q3 results, with ambitious plans for VOD platform TV Now in Germany.

Bert Habets

RTL Group CEO Bert Habets said that the group plans to up its investment in streaming services, including investment in original production for such services.

“The mixed developments of the European TV advertising markets show that we are on the right track with our clear focus on two growth areas: building and expanding our non-linear streaming platforms, and producing local exclusive content,” he said.

“We will substantially increase the content offers of our streaming services across all genres – this includes showing programmes online first and developing original productions for these services. Combined with state-of-the-art user experience, RTL Group is determined to become the European pioneer for the next level of Total Video.”

RTL plans to relaunch its TV Now video-on-demand service this winter, with a new platform additional exclusive content branded as TV Now Originals, online –first formats and exclusive and non-exclusive third-party licensed content.

TV Now Originals will include dram series M – Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder, a reworking of the classic Fritz Lang movie from 1931 with Peter Lorre.

RTL said that the number of paid subscribers to TV Now Plus – the service’s premium tier – grew by 40% in the year to September, while video viewers from January to September were 45% up on the same period last year.

In the Netherlands, VOD platform Videoland saw paid subscriber growth of 119% year-on-year, with total subscriber viewing time up 245% in the first nine months, driven by local originals such as reality format Temptation Island Vips. Videoland helped drive RTL Nederland’s EBITDA for the quarter up by 22.2% to €55 million.

RTL also said it plans to combine its multiplatform network businesses – StyleHaul, Divimove and United Screens – into a single unit able to achieve global scale in the course of next year.

Production outfit Fremantle meanwhile saw its EBITDA grow by 3.1% to €66 million driven by strong performances in North America, Germany and Canada.

RTL’s German unit was hit by lower ad revenue in the quarter, with EBITDA dropping 2.6% to €484 million, while French unit M6 saw EBITDA jump by 4.9% thanks to gains on disposals.

RTL posted revenue for the first nine months of €4.468 billion, up 2.7% despite negative exchange rate effects, with digital revenue up 17.9%. EBITDA was stable at €892 million.