RTL Sees Profits Drop in Q1 2011

A drop in ad sales in the core German market, together with higher investments, pushed profits down.


COLOGNE, Germany - American Idol wasn't enough to save RTL's first quarter. The European media giant that through subsidiary FremantleMedia controls Idol, reaped the rewards as the audition show retained its crown this season as America's number one show for the 8th year running. But a drop in ad sales in RTL's core German market, together with higher investments, pushed profits down in the first quarter of 2011.

RTL Group's operating profits (EBITDA) dropped more than 11 percent to €181 million ($260.5 million), from €205 million in Q1 2010. Revenue, however, inched up slightly to €1.26 billion ($1.81 billion) from €1.25 billion over the same period last year.

And despite the drop in German ad revenues, RTL's audience share in the territory has rarely been better.

A record 35.9 percent of the German audience tuned in to an RTL-run channel in the first quarter, with flagship network RTL Television drawing an astounding 19.8 percent of the 14-49 demographic. Revenue from RTL's French and Dutch channels was also up.

But, typically, RTL avoided making predictions, saying the Euro ad market continued to give mixed signals, making a year-end forecast impossible at this time.

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