Quarterly Statement: RTL Group accelerates growth of its streaming services

06.05.2021, Luxembourg, RTL Group

On 6 May 2021, RTL Group published the following quarterly statement for the first three months of 2021 (Q1/2021).

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

Thomas Rabe, CEO of RTL Group

“Our streaming services TV Now and Videoland accelerated their growth, adding more than half a million new paying subscribers in the first three months of the year. This demonstrates how our streaming investments in content, marketing and technology – and our strategic partnerships – boost our progress towards creating national streaming champions. With new high-end drama series and a broad portfolio of entertainment shows, our global content business, Fremantle, had a strong start to the year.

Driven by our streaming and content production business, RTL Group’s revenue was up by almost 4 per cent organically in the first quarter – although lockdown measures led to lower TV advertising revenue. We see strong growth of our TV advertising revenue across our footprint for the second quarter of the year and confirm our outlook for the full year 2021.

As stated before, there is a strong case for consolidation in the European broadcasting industry. We are currently reviewing such options for our broadcasting businesses in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, with a view to creating value for our shareholders. There can be no certainty that this may lead to any type of agreement or transaction.”

 

Revenue

Group revenue was down 4.2 per cent to €1,404 million (Q1/2020: €1,466 million), mainly due to negative exchange rate effects and scope effects resulting from the disposals of BroadbandTV and the Groupe M6 diversification businesses Home Shopping Service and iGraal. Lower TV advertising revenue in Germany and the Netherlands was compensated by increasing content, streaming and ad-tech revenue. Group revenue was up 3.9 per cent organically.

The revenue of RTL Group’s content business, Fremantle, was up 14.6 per cent to €433 million (Q1/2020: €378 million), driven by the delivery of the high-end drama series American Gods (season three) and The Mosquito Coast. Fremantle’s revenue in Q1/2021 was negatively impacted by exchange rate effects. The unit’s revenue grew 21.5 per cent organically.

RTL Group’s advertising revenue was €745 million (Q1/2020: €796 million), of which €587 million represented TV advertising revenue (Q1/2020: €646 million), €78 million digital advertising revenue (Q1/2020: €67 million) and €48 million radio advertising revenue (Q1/2020: €50 million). 

Streaming revenue from TV Now and Videoland was up 40.5 per cent to €52 million (Q1/2020: €37 million), thanks to the rapidly growing number of subscribers.

RTL Group’s platform revenue was up 7.1 per cent to €106 million (Q1/2020: €99 million).

RTL Group's streaming services TV Now and Videoland accelerated their growth, adding more than half a million new paying subscribers in the first three months of the year.

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 year on year in Germany and the Netherlands in Q1/2021, while the French TV advertising market was slightly up after strong growth in the month of March. A summary of RTL Group’s key markets is shown below, including estimates of net TV advertising market growth rates and audience shares in the main target group.

 

 

Q1/2021
net TV advertising market
growth rate
(in per cent)

RTL Group audience share in the main target group Q1/2021
(in per cent)

RTL Group audience share in the main target group Q1/2020
(in per cent)
 

Germany

(16.5) to (17.0)

27.2

28.5

France

1.0

23.2

22.0

The Netherlands

(3.0)

34.5

31.1

Net cash

As of 31 March 2021, RTL Group had net cash of €410 million (31 December 2020: net cash of €236 million). On 6 May 2021, RTL Group will pay out the dividend for 2020 amounting to €464 million.
 

Operational highlights

At the end of March 2021, RTL Group registered 2.72 million paying subscribers for its streaming services TV Now in Germany and Videoland in the Netherlands, up 71 per cent year on year (end of March 2020: 1.59 million).

  • Paying subscribers for TV Now doubled year on year to 1.718 million (end of March 2020:
    0.857 million). The strategic partnership with Deutsche Telekom to bundle TV Now Premium in Magenta TV contributed significantly to the growth
  • Paying subscribers for Videoland grew 38 per cent year on year to 1.006 million (end of March 2020: 0.728 million)

In March 2021, Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland and Deutsche Telekom agreed on the sub-licensing of exclusive rights to 17 Uefa Euro 2024 matches, as part of the companies’ strategic partnership announced in November 2020. The agreement covers the broadcast of 14 group phase matches, two rounds of 16 finals and one quarter-final exclusively on free-to-air TV on RTL Television and live streaming on TV Now. Extensive highlights, on-demand and news access rights are also included in the package, enabling Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland to report on all 51 Uefa Euro 2024 matches across all channels and platforms.

Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland and Deutsche Telekom agreed on the sub-licensing of exclusive rights to 17 Uefa Euro 2024 matches.

In March 2021, Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland and Sky Deutschland announced an agreement for closer collaboration in the areas of streaming and content. TV Now Premium will be available via an upselling option on the Sky Q platform from mid-2021, increasing the potential reach of TV Now by more than 2.5 million Sky Q customers. As part of the agreement, Sky exclusively sublicenses Formula One free-to-air rights to Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland. The main channel RTL Television will live broadcast four Formula One races per season. The agreement, initially concluded for two years, also includes extensive news access rights, enabling the German RTL family of channels to report on Formula One across all channels.

In March 2021, Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland announced a binding agreement with its current joint venture partner, The Walt Disney Company, to acquire the outstanding 50 per cent shareholding in Super RTL. The transaction – which is subject to approval from the German and Austrian competition authorities – will take RTL Group’s shareholding in Super RTL to 100 per cent.

In Q1/2021, RTL Nederland’s family of channels grew its combined prime-time audience share in the target group of viewers aged 25 to 54 to 34.5 per cent (Q1/2020: 31.1 per cent), 4.8 percentage points ahead of the public broadcasters. This audience growth was mainly driven by a strong audience performance of the main channel RTL 4, which scored high ratings with news and infotainment programmes in the early evening and shows such as The Traitors and Lego Masters.

RTL Nederland's shows The Traitors (left) and Lego Masters (right) has scored high ratings. © RTL

Fremantle had a successful start to 2021, with the continued roll-out of Game of Talents in the United States, UK, Sweden and Belgium, the return of American Idol and the launch of Top Star, a brand-new format from Fremantle Spain. On the scripted side of Fremantle’s business, Miso Film’s The Investigation launched to critical acclaim and delivered record audiences on HBO and the BBC in the first quarter of 2021. Abot Hameiri’s hit drama Shtisel launched its third season on Netflix, while The Mosquito Coast launched on Apple TV+ this April.  

Game of Talents (left) was rolled out in the United States, UK, Sweden and Belgium, American Idol (right) returned in the US.

In April 2021, Fremantle announced to increase its stake in Abot Hameiri, taking full ownership of one of the leading entertainment producers in Israel. The company is behind shows such as Power Couple, Find Me Somebody To Love, Hear Me Love Me See Me and the hit drama Shtisel. Abot Hameiri is also the Israeli producer for global formats such as Got Talent, Survivor and The X Factor.

In April 2021, Fremantle’s UFA announced the launch of its new production unit UFA Documentary. The unit will work alongside UFA Fiction, UFA Serial Drama and UFA Show & Factual as a standalone production company under the UFA umbrella, with a focus on documentaries, hybrid-docs and serialised features. Recent productions that prove UFA’s strong credentials in the field include Expedition Arktis, Der Große Fake – Die Wirecard-Story and Hannelore Kohl – Die erste Frau.

Recent documentary productions productions from UFA include Expedition Arktis (left) ©SRF and Der Große Fake – Die Wirecard-Story (right). © TVNOW Gordon Muehle

On 30 April 2021, RTL Group closed the transaction to sell its US ad-tech company SpotX to Magnite. As part of the transaction, RTL Group received US-$640 million (€528 million) in cash and 12.37 million shares of Magnite stock. Based on the closing price of Magnite stock as at 29 April 2021, the agreement implies an enterprise value (100 per cent) for SpotX of US-$1.14 billion (€942 million). SpotX continued its strong business performance in Q1/2021 with revenue up around 50 per cent.
 

Outlook

RTL Group confirms its outlook for 2021, as published on 12 March 2021. This outlook assumes that the economic recovery continues in 2021 – in particular in Q2/2021 – as current lockdown measures are gradually eased and vaccination programmes against Covid-19 progress. 

  • RTL Group expects its revenue to increase to approximately €6.2 billion. This includes organic growth of 8 per cent and the effects of the deconsolidation of BroadbandTV.
     
  • RTL Group expects its Adjusted EBITA for 2021 to grow to approximately €975 million. This includes streaming start-up losses of approximately €150 million.
     
  • RTL Group’s dividend policy remains unchanged: RTL Group plans to pay out at least 80 per cent of the adjusted full-year net result.
     

 

2020

2021e

Revenue

€6,017m

~€6,200m

Adjusted EBITA

€853m

~€975m

Streaming start-up losses

€55m

~€150m

“Adjusted EBITA before streaming start-up losses”

€908m

~€1,125m

 

The figures presented in this quarterly statement are not audited.

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