News | RTLGroup | Luxembourg, 04/30/2020

RTL Group Publishes First-Quarter Results

RTL Group Publishes First-Quarter Results. Reported Group revenue was down 3.4 per cent to €1,466 million, mainly due to lower TV advertising revenue resulting from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Underlying revenue was €1,441 million. The audience shares in Germany, France and the Netherlands increased; RTL Group’s comprehensive news reporting generates record ratings. Paying subscribers for RTL Group’s streaming services TV Now and Videoland was up 34 per cent to 1.53 million.

Thomas Rabe, Chief Executive Officer of RTL Group, says: “At RTL Group, we continue to monitor the rapid worldwide spread of the coronavirus disease closely, placing the highest priority on the health of our employees and on protecting our businesses. Our TV channels, radio stations, streaming services and websites have registered significantly higher reach and usage as they provide information and entertainment to millions of people who face unprecedented disruption to their daily lives. RTL Group’s businesses are part of their countries’ critical infrastructure. I am pleased that we are running numerous initiatives that include awareness campaigns and thank-you messages for the daily heroes in the current crisis.

At the beginning of March, we registered first cancellations of advertising bookings, as well as postponements of productions. This trend has accelerated with the introduction of wide-ranging lockdown measures across Europe in later March. We are making good progress in implementing counter measures to reduce costs and preserve liquidity.
Despite the economic uncertainty, RTL Group’s three-priority strategy – core, growth, alliances & partnerships – remains unchanged. We maintain our mid-term targets for the streaming services TV Now in Germany and Videoland in the Netherlands to grow their total number of paying subscribers to between 5 and 7 million, to grow streaming revenue to at least €500 million and to break even by 2025. The growth in paying subscribers and streaming revenue in the first quarter of 2020 is in line with the boost plans we presented in March.”


Reported Group revenue was down 3.4 per cent to €1,466 million (Q1/2019: €1,518 million), mainly due to lower TV advertising revenue resulting from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Underlying revenue was €1,441 million (Q1/2019: €1,490 million). Revenue from RTL Group’s broadcasting operations was down 4.8 per cent to €1,035 million (Q1/2019: €1,087 million). Content revenue, which represents Fremantle, was down 1.3 per cent to €378 million (Q1/2019: €383 million), mainly as a result of timing effects.
Digital revenue generated by BBTV, Divimove and SpotX was up 3.0 per cent to €103 million (Q1/2019: €100 million), thanks to growth at all three businesses. Streaming revenue from TV Now and Videoland was up 19.4 per cent to €37 million (Q1/2019: €31 million), thanks to the increased number of streaming subscriptions. As a result, RTL Group’s total digital revenue was up 5.9 per cent to €233 million (Q1/2019: €220 million).

Net debt

RTL Group has low levels of debt and significant, unused and committed Bertelsmann credit facilities with no maturities before 2023. As of 31 March 2020, RTL Group had a net debt position of €200 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 shares in the main target group.

Operational highlights

At the end of March 2020, RTL Group registered 1.53 million paying subscribers for its streaming services TV Now in Germany and Videoland in the Netherlands, up 34 per cent year on year. Both services have seen a higher growth rate for new subscribers since the introduction of lockdown measures in mid-March 2020. In France, Groupe M6’s streaming service 6play recorded additional one million registered users and a 45 per cent increase of videos viewed between 16 March and 16 April 2020.
During the coronavirus pandemic, RTL Group was able to increase its net reach, viewing times and digital usage across its channels, platforms and countries. In March 2020, Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland’s news channel, NTV, more than doubled its audience share to 1.9 per cent for 14 to 59-year-olds year on year (March 2019: 0.9 per cent), was watched increasingly by younger audiences and was the leading news brand among information broadcasters in Germany. In France, M6’s news formats “Le 1245” and “Le 1945” registered average audience shares of 21.1 per cent and 19.0 per cent in the commercial target group for March 2020. From the beginning of lockdown in France until the end of March 2020, Le 1245 recorded an audience growth of 90 per cent compared to the average of the season 2019/2020.

Fremantle had a successful start to 2020 with “American Idol”, “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” and the reality-dating formats “Five Guys a Week” on Channel 4 and “Too Hot to Handle” on Netflix. Fremantle also continued its push into drama production with the launches of “The New Pope” on Sky Italia, “Baghdad Central” on Channel 4 and the UFA Fiction film “Betonrausch” on Netflix. “Too Hot to Handle” is about to become one of the biggest competition shows on Netflix. The show has reached the top of Netflix’s ‘most-watched’ charts in the UK, US and Canada, numerous European countries as well as Pakistan and South Africa.

One year after the launch of the German audio platform Audio Now in March 2019, the service has launched 80 original podcasts and already registered an average of 6 million monthly users.


Given the current economic uncertainty, RTL Group’s Board of Directors decided on 2 April 2020 to withdraw the previous outlook (dated 13 March 2020) which did not reflect the coronavirus outbreak. As stated on 2 April 2020, global economic development and prospects have significantly deteriorated since mid-March, when RTL Group gave its outlook statement. The Group is currently not in a position to provide a new outlook for the full year 2020. Figures presented in this quarterly statement are not audited.