RTL Group Sees Bounceback in European TV Ad Markets

'We Are Who We Are'
Yannis Drakoulidis

Jordan Kristine Seamón and Jack Dylan Grazer in 'We Are Who We Are'

Operating profits at Europe's largest commercial television group beat targets, with advertising revenue recovering faster than expected from the coronavirus downturn. 

RTL Group, Europe's largest commercial television group, is on track to bounce back faster than expected from the downturn triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. 

In preliminary, unaudited figures released Wednesday, RTL said it booked adjusted operating profits (EBITA) of $1.032 billion (€850 million) last year, well below the $1.4 billion (€1.156 billion) the group earned in 2019, but significantly better than RTL's original forecast, which had predicted adjusted EBITA of around $875 million (€720 million). 

RTL said television advertising markets in Europe bounced backed faster than expected from the decline that followed the economic slump set off by the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns across the continent.

RTL pointed to a strong recovery in the fourth quarter of last year, which helped the company book full-year revenue of around $7.3 billion (€6 billion), within shouting distance of its 2019 figures (€6.65 billion). RTL has interests in 68 television channels, ten streaming platforms, and 31 radio stations across Europe, including leading German commercial network RTL TV and French channel M6. The company also owns Fremantle, producer of American Idol, Netflix's Too Hot to Handle and drama series such as HBO's The New Pope and We Are Who We Are. In 2020 Fremantle produced some 42 dramas, including films, scripted series, and daily soaps, from 16 territories, up from 36 from 11 territories in 2019.

RTL has also seen impressive growth for its online streaming services. German streaming platform TV Now and Dutch service Videoland reported 1.79 million paying subscribers at the end of September last year, a 32 percent year-on-year increase. On October 20, 2020, RTL's M6 in France launched the joint streaming service Salto together with Groupe TF1 and France Télévisions with more than 10,000 hours of content and 20 TV channels to stream for French subscribers. 

RTL Group will publish its full, audited report of its 2020 results on March 12. 

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported RTL's full-year revenues for 2020. They were €6.0 billion.