Revenues at Bertelsmann’s Luxembourg-based RTL Group, a media giant which owns Fremantle, climbed 9% to a record €7.2 billion ($7.6 billion) for the financial year 2022.
However, the company’s EBITA (earnings before interest, taxes and amortization) slid 6% to €1.08 billion, down from €1.15 billion in 2021. RTL attributes this to higher streaming start-up losses and lower TV advertising revenue at RTL Deutschland, and the exits of RTL Belgium and Groupe M6. These effects were partly offset by record adjusted EBITA contributions from RTL Nederland and Fremantle, RTL said.
The RTL Group has interests in 56 television channels, nine streaming services and 36 radio stations. The group’s content business, Fremantle, is one of the world’s largest creators, producers and distributors of scripted and unscripted content, including “American Idol,” “Britain’s Got Talent” and “The X Factor.”
Group profit was €766 million, down from €1.4 billion in 2021. But 2021 was positively impacted by capital gains of €717 million from the sale of video advertising platform SpotX.
Fremantle’s revenue was up 22% to €2.3 billion, up from 2021’s €1.9 billion. RTL’s stated ambition to build Fremantle into a €3 billion company by 2025 remains in place. Streaming revenue – which includes SVOD, TVOD, in-stream and distribution revenue from RTL+ in Germany and Hungary and Videoland/RTL XL in the Netherlands – was up by 20%, to €267 million (2021: €223 million), thanks to the rapidly growing number of paying subscribers.
Paying subscribers for RTL’s streaming services in Germany, the Netherlands and Hungary soared 44% to 5.5 million. Streaming start-up losses were €233 million.
RTL’s advertising revenue was €3.72 billion (2021: €3.77 billion), of which €2.9 billion came from TV (2021: €3.05 billion), €385 million represented digital advertising revenue (2021: €348 million) and €192 million represented radio advertising revenue (2021: €219 million).
RTL’s digital revenue was up by 14% to €1.2 billion (2021: €1.08 billion), mainly thanks to RTL Deutschland and Fremantle.
The group has set ambitious streaming targets for 2026, planning to hit 10 million paying subscribers, increasing revenue to €1 billion and content spend from €304 million to €600 million.
Thomas Rabe, CEO of RTL Group, said: “2022 was a strong year for RTL Group, although we faced an unprecedented number of external challenges. Revenue reached €7.2 billion, representing the highest revenue in the company’s history. With our families of TV channels in Germany, France and the Netherlands continuing to generate high operating profits, and our global content business Fremantle reporting record results, our adjusted EBITA before streaming start-up losses remained stable, on the same record level as last year.”
He continued: “RTL Group’s growth businesses streaming and content progressed significantly in 2022, with 5.5 million paying subscribers for RTL+ and Videoland, and over 100 drama productions from Fremantle. We are on course to reach our ambitious streaming targets, and Fremantle is on track to becoming a €3 billion company [by revenue] by 2025. RTL Group demonstrates high earnings, cost discipline and significant investments in content, streaming, tech and data. This enables us to pay a high dividend of €4.00 per share to our shareholders, including €0.50 relating to the disposals of RTL Belgium and RTL Croatia.”