RTL Group Hits Half-Year Revenue Record as SVOD Business Booms

Thomas Raab CEO RTL Group - H - 2019
RTL Group

Europe's leading commercial TV group sees strong digital and online growth, but traditional TV channels and production operations still provide the bulk of its financials.

European commercial television giant RTL Group reported record half-year financials on Wednesday as revenue jumped 4.2 percent year-over-year to an all-time company high of $3.52 billion (€3.17 billion).

Like-for-like revenue growth, at 4.6 percent, was the highest RTL has posted since 2010.

RTL's digital operations recorded the strongest growth, with revenue jumping 21 percent to $569 million (€513 million). The company's subscription VOD service, operating in Germany and the Netherlands, registered 1.2 million subscribers as of the end of June, up 46.2 percent from the year-ago period.

Through its French subsidiary, Groupe M6, RTL is also part of the new SVOD platform Salto, which recently secured regulatory approval and will launch in France in early 2020. 

RTL, which operates free-to-air and pay TV channels across Europe and owns production powerhouse Fremantle (Got Talent, American Idol), has been investing heavily in streaming and digital operations in a move to transition from traditional TV to the online and on-demand marketplace.

Operating profit for the first half slipped slightly to $597 million (€538 million), but net profit was up 21 percent to $491 million (€443 million), largely due to the sale of assets.

"Operating profitability remained at high levels — and this despite substantially higher programming and VOD investments and restructuring charges," said RTL Group CEO Thomas Rabe. "We will further increase our investments in content and technology. RTL Group is well positioned for the current investment cycle in the European TV industry: We have leading market positions; our streaming services are growing fast; and our financial position is strong."

Rabe confirmed RTL's full-year outlook, saying the company expects moderate revenue growth of 2.5 percent-5 percent and a moderate fall in operating profits (EBITA) of 2.5 percent-5 percent,  reflecting higher investments into programming and streaming services.