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RTL posts improved advertising numbers as streaming subs soar

Broadcasting group RTL has made a modest comeback in the third quarter, with ad revenues close to being on a par with 2019 – a much better performance than anticipated – and streaming subscriber numbers rising by a third year-on-year.

RTL had 1.79 million subscribers to its German RTL Now and Dutch Videoland streaming services at the end of September, up 32% year-on-year.

Streaming revenues were up by 24% to €124 million for the first nine months of the year, fuelled by growth in subscriber numbers.

However, the group saw digital revenues overall decline slightly, by 1.4% for the nine months period to €743 million due to the timing of deliveries at production outfit Fremantle and the wind-down of YouTube lifestyle network StyleHaul, which RTL announced it would shut last year. In another sign of the times, RTL also recently sold its remaining stake in another YouTube network, Broadband TV, to the latter’s management.

Group revenue for the third quarter was down year-on-year by only 1.5%, to €1.4 billion, compared with a decline for the nine months to September of 11.8% due to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis in the second quarter in particular.

Advertising revenue for the third quarter declined by 2.1%.

Revenue from production outfit Fremantle was down 15.3% for the nine months period, reflecting the impact of the production freeze.

For the full nine months period, RTL posted revenues of €4.053 billion, down 11.8%. The group now expects full year revenue to be €5.8 billion and EBITA to be about €720 million.

“Following a strong decline in the second quarter of 2020, TV advertising revenue across RTL Group decreased by only 2.1 per cent in the third quarter compared to our previous guidance of around minus 10 per cent. At the same time, we continued to gain advertising market shares, grow our streaming services and manage our costs,” said CEO Thomas Rabe.
“Assuming the economic recovery continues, we currently expect revenue of around €5.8 billion and an Adjusted EBITA of around €720 million for the full year 2020, driven by the strength of Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland. We also expect to propose a dividend for 2020, in line with our stated dividend policy.”

Of the Broadband TV sale, Rabe said: “The sale is consistent with our three-priority strategy – core, growth, alliances & partnerships – which also includes continuously reviewing our portfolio and growing our European digital assets in the areas of streaming, advertising technology and digital video.”

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