Disney to Sell Its Stake in German Kids Channel Super RTL

David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel Bones Series Finale - Publicity - H 2017
Patrick McElhenney/FOX

In addition to kids programming, Super RTL also carries U.S. series such as 'Bones.'

The entertainment giant has held 50 percent of Europe's largest children's channel, but is shifting its focus to its streaming platform Disney+.

RTL Group has agreed to buy out the Walt Disney Co.'s stake in the German kids channel Super RTL.

The Cologne-based free-to-air network — Europe's largest commercial children's channel — was founded in 1999 as a 50-50 joint venture between RTL's German TV division, RTL Deutschland, and BVI Television Investments, Inc., a unit of Disney.

Under the deal announced Wednesday, RTL will acquire Disney's 50 percent stake in Super RTL, giving the German group full control of the channel. Super RTL has been a money-spinner for Disney for decades but the studio's focus has shifted to online, with the launch in Germany last year of streaming platform Disney+. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

RTL Group, Europe's leading commercial TV operator, is also pivoting to becoming an online-first broadcaster. Last week, the company named Henning Tewes, the head of its streaming service TVNow (soon to be renamed RTL+), to the top job at RTL Deutschland. The full acquisition of Super RTL will help  further the company's goal of consolidating its channels across its existing European broadcasting footprint and also comes amid RTL's growth plans for its online activities.

In 2019, RTL Group’s French broadcasting business, Groupe M6, completed the acquisition of the country’s leading free-TV channel for children, Gulli, and five pay-TV channels from Lagardère. Most recently, RTL Group acquired outstanding shareholdings in RTL Belgium’s TV and radio businesses, taking its ownership in RTL Belgium to 100 percent.

The sale still has to be approved by regulatory authorities in Germany and Austria but is expected to go through later this year.

Whatever the size of the cheque Disney got, the deal is the biggest for the German market in decades, since the merger of RTL competitors ProSieben and Sat.1 back in 2000.

RTL will now be able to fold Super RTL into its "family" of German channels, which include flagship RTL, VOX, news network n-TV, niche channel Nitro, and female-focused RTLPlus. RTL also holds just under 36 percent of commercial network RTL 2, whose other shareholders are KKR-owned group Leonine and German publisher the Bauer Media Group.

Super RTL combines daytime programming for young children and families with a family-friendly primetime schedule of mainly U.S. series, such as Bones, House, and C.S.I.:Miami.