Quarterly Statement: stronger than expected TV advertising revenue

12.11.2020, Luxembourg, RTL Group

On 12 November 2020, RTL Group published the following quarterly statement for the first nine months of 2020, reporting stronger than expected TV advertising revenue for Q3/2020.

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Thomas Rabe, Chief Executive Officer of RTL Group, says:

Thomas Rabe

“We monitor closely the development of the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact across our footprint, and continue to focus on the safety of our employees, the continuity of our businesses, cost and liquidity management.

Following a strong decline in the second quarter of 2020, TV advertising revenue across RTL Group decreased by only 2.1 per cent in the third quarter compared to our previous guidance of around minus 10 per cent. At the same time, we continued to gain advertising market shares, grow our streaming services and manage our costs.

Assuming the economic recovery continues, we currently expect revenue of around €5.8 billion and an Adjusted EBITA of around €720 million for the full year 2020, driven by the strength of Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland. We also expect to propose a dividend for 2020, in line with our stated dividend policy.

At the end of October, RTL Group completed the sale of its entire shareholding in the Canadian digital video network BroadbandTV for €102 million. The sale is consistent with our three-priority strategy – core, growth, alliances & partnerships – which also includes continuously reviewing our portfolio and growing our European digital assets in the areas of streaming, advertising technology and digital video.”


Revenue

Reported Group revenue was down 11.8 per cent to €4,053 million (January to September 2019: €4,595 million), mainly due to TV advertising markets declining across Europe in the second quarter of 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. Group revenue was down 10.4 per cent organically. Reported Group revenue in the third quarter of 2020 was down 1.5 per cent to €1,401 million (Q3/2019: €1,422 million).

Fremantle's drama production The Investigation (left) and We Are Who We Are (right)

The revenue of RTL Group’s content business, Fremantle, was down 15.3 per cent to €1,038 million (January to September 2019: €1,225 million), mainly due to postponements of productions across numerous territories as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

RTL Group’s advertising revenue was €2,115 million (January to September 2019: €2,489 million), of which €1,679 million represented TV advertising revenue (January to September 2019: €2,010 million), €210 million digital advertising revenue (January to September 2019: €226 million) and €141 million radio advertising revenue (January to September 2019: €177 million). 

Streaming revenue from TV Now and Videoland was up 24.0 per cent to €124 million (January to September 2019: €100 million), thanks to the increased number of streaming subscriptions.

RTL Group’s digital revenue was down by 1.6 per cent to €743 million (January to September 2019: €755 million), mainly due to timing of deliveries at Fremantle, the wind-down of StyleHaul and the scope exit of iGraal which was partly compensated for by higher streaming revenue.

At the end of September 2020, RTL Group registered 1.79 million paying subscribers for its streaming services TV Now in Germany and Videoland in the Netherlands, up 32 per cent year on year


Net debt

RTL Group has low levels of debt and significant unused and committed Bertelsmann credit facilities with no maturities before 2023. As of 30 September 2020, RTL Group had a net debt position of €179 million (31 December 2019: net debt of €384 million).


Net TV advertising market growth rates and RTL Group audience shares in main target groups

RTL Group estimates that the net TV advertising markets were down across RTL Group’s key markets. A summary of RTL Group’s key markets is shown below, including estimates of net TV advertising market growth rates and the audience share in the main target audience group.

  January to September 2020 net TV advertising market growth rate (in per cent) RTL Group audience share in main target group January to September 2020 (in per cent) RTL Group audience share in main target group January to September 2019 (in per cent)
Germany (15.5) to (16.0)  27.8 28.2
France (19.0) 22.8 22.9
Netherlands (17.6) 30.5 29.3


Operational highlights

At the end of September 2020, RTL Group registered 1.79 million paying subscribers for its streaming services TV Now in Germany and Videoland in the Netherlands, up 32 per cent year on year.

Salto was launched in France, with RTL Group’s Bedrock providing the tech platform for the streaming service

On 20 October 2020, Salto – the joint subscription streaming service of Groupe TF1, France Télévisions and Groupe M6 – was launched in France with more than 10,000 hours of content, and the possibility to stream 20 TV channels live in HD quality. RTL Group’s Bedrock provides the tech platform for the streaming service with state-of-the-art content curation and personalisation features.

TV Now has commissioned UFA Fiction to produce a four-part documentary about the life and career of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to be released at the end of 2021. The script will be written by Stefan Aust, author and publisher of Welt and Welt am Sonntag and former editor-in-chief of the German news magazine Der Spiegel.

Fremantle enjoyed creative successes and showed world-leading production innovation across all genres in the first nine months of 2020 with American Idol, the reality-dating formats Five Guys a Week on Channel 4 and Too Hot to Handle on Netflix as well as with gameshows such as Family Feud and The Price is Right across the world. Fremantle also continued its push into drama production with the launches of The New Pope on Sky Italia, The Investigation on TV2 in Denmark, We Are Who We Are on HBO and Sky Italia and Deutschland 89 on Amazon Prime. In 2020 in total, Fremantle expects to deliver 42 dramas (including movies, high-end scripted series and daily dramas) from 16 territories, up from 36 delivered from 11 territories in 2019.

Fremantle enjoyed creative successes and showed world-leading production innovation across all genres in the first nine months of 2020, with for example American Idol (left) and Too Hot To Handle (right)

On 28 October 2020, RTL Group announced that it has completed the sale of its entire shareholding in the Vancouver-based digital video network BroadbandTV to BBTV Holdings Inc., effective on 28 October 2020, for €102 million.

After the sales house Media Impact (Axel Springer) became a partner of the German Ad Alliance for its digital inventory in January 2020, Ad Alliance and Media Impact will intensify their partnership and expand their advertising sales cooperation to Media Impact’s print titles, for example Bild and Welt, starting in January 2021.

On 1 January 2021 Deutsche Telekom will become a partner of the German log-in alliance European NetID Foundation – initiated by Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, ProSiebenSat1 and United Internet.

Following the German example, Groupe M6 and Prisma Media partnered in September 2020 to launch the podcast platform Audio Now in France. More than 100 French podcasts from the catalogues of Groupe M6, Prisma Media and partner publishers were available on the platform upon its launch in September 2020.

Ad Alliance and Media Impact will intensify their partnership (left) and Deutsche Telekom will become a partner of the German log-in alliance European NetID Foundation (right)


Outlook

Assuming that the economic recovery continues, RTL Group expects its total revenue for the full year 2020 to be around €5.8 billion and its Adjusted EBITA to be around €720 million, driven by the strength of Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland.

RTL Group’s dividend policy, presented in August 2019, remains unchanged: RTL Group plans to pay out at least 80 per cent of the Group’s full-year net result attributable to RTL Group shareholders, adjusted for any material non-cash impacts such as impairments and deferred taxes. For 2020, RTL Group’s management currently expects to propose a dividend in line with this dividend policy. 

Figures presented in this quarterly statement are not audited.

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