Bertelsmann Sees First Half Profit, Sales Growth


Traditional TV advertising and digital sales buoy parent company of "American Idol" producer FremantleMedia and "Song of Ice and Fire" publisher Random House.

COLOGNE, Germany - German media giant Bertelsmann rode continuing strong TV ad sales in its core West European market to another strong first half, boosting sales to $10.4 billion (€7.2 billion) and increasing operating profit by $33 million to $388 million (€269 million).

Broadcast division RTL Group, which controls several leading European commercial networks as well as FremantleMedia, producer of American Idol and X Factor, was again the engine of Bertelsmann's growth, booking a record operating profit for the half, thanks to strong performances from its French and Benelux operations and steady, if flat, returns from its German group of channels.

Bertelsmann was also keen to point out improvements in its digital TV business, noting that video views on RTL Group's various sites was up 30 percent to nearly 1 billion views in the first 6 months of 2011.

Bertelsmann is hoping digital will be the saving grace of its book division Random House. Despite mega-bestsellers including George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire franchise, the basis for HBO's hit series Game of Thrones, sales at Random House dipped to $1.1 billion (€787 million) in the first half, the only one of Bertelsmann's divisions to show a drop.

Bertelsmann CEO Hartmut Ostrowski put a positive spin on the declining book trade, noting that e-book sales "continue to grow in the triple-digit percentage range."