Fremantle and Record German Performance Lift RTL Group's Year-End Results
COLOGNE, Germany – The twin money-spinners that are its German TV channels and in-house production group Fremantle Media, makers of The X Factor and American Idol formats, papered over the cracks at parent company RTL Group, which hit record revenues of nearly $8 billion (€6 billion) last year even as net profit dipped 13.2 percent to $910 million (€690 million).
The ever-robust German TV market – where RTL channels command a 33.7 percent share of the key 14-49 demographic – delivered operating profits (EBITA) of $766 million (€581 million) for the year, a 9.8 percent annual jump and a record result for its German TV division, Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland.
FremantleMedia saw revenues soar 19.7 percent last year, thanks to increased turnover in the U.S., U.K., German and Asian-Pacific markets, but operating profits slipped slightly to $182 million (€138 million) due to the impact of unfavorable currency exchange rates and recharges without margins for certain third-party production contracts. Fremantle's entertainment formats – including American Idol, Got Talent and The Farmer Wants a Wife – continue to be ratings winners worldwide, though the group faces a challenge to deliver the next generation of shows to replace these veterans, many of which are over a decade old.
Elsewhere in RTL's portfolio, things looked less rosy. The ongoing Euro crisis has hurt broadcast operations in much of the continent, with advertising revenues sharply down in markets in Spain, Hungary and Croatia, where RTL operates, and dips also marked in the French and Benelux markets.
Still, RTL Group co-CEOs Anke Schaferkordt and Guillaume de Posch had reason to crow as they unveiled another strong set of figures following what has been a challenging year for broadcasters across Europe.
“In 2012, RTL Group has once again demonstrated that it can operate successfully even in a very challenging economic environment,” Schaferkordt and De Posch said in a joint statement. “For the third consecutive year, our EBITA exceeded €1 billion. Our EBITA margin was very healthy at 18.0 per cent and our largest profit centre, Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, achieved a new record EBITA of €581 million. This on-going success is based on RTL Group’s unique set-up: we are the only pan-European free-TV group with a worldwide content production powerhouse.”
Going forward, RTL plans to continue strengthening its core broadcast operation – the group launched five new linear TV channels last year alone – as well as boosting its online business. Fremantle launched four YouTube-financed channels in 2012, which registered 4.5 billion views, making the U.K.-based operation the highest-rated producer on YouTube.