News | RTL Group | Cologne, 11/15/2023

Stephan Schmitter To Become New CEO Of RTL Deutschland On January 1, 2024

Stephan Schmitter will take over as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of RTL Deutschland with effect from January 1, 2024. In addition to his current functions as Chief Content Officer, he will be responsible for the fast-growing streaming service RTL+ and the reorganized publishing business Gruner + Jahr (G+J).

Stephan Schmitter

RTL Group today announced that Stephan Schmitter will take over the leadership of RTL Deutschland as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective January 1, 2024. In addition to his current role of Chief Content Officer, Stephan Schmitter will take on responsibility for the fast-growing streaming service RTL+ and the reorganized publishing business Gruner + Jahr (G+J) as CEO of RTL Deutschland. So as of January 1, 2024, the Management Board of RTL Deutschland will be as follows: Stephan Schmitter (CEO), Matthias Dang (Chief Commercial, Technology and Data Officer), Andreas Fischer (Chief Operating Officer) and Ingrid Heisserer (Chief Financial Officer & Chief Human Resources Officer).

Thomas Rabe, CEO of RTL Group and current Chairman of the Management Board of RTL Deutschland, says: “Stephan Schmitter lives and embodies RTL. He is an entrepreneur with an extraordinary flair for content and a collaborative management style. As Chief Content Officer and member of the Management Board, he has set the course for the future in a short amount of time. This year, RTL was the only main channel in Germany to increase its audience share in the key target group. Vox became the second most popular commercial channel, and our family of channels significantly expanded its market leadership. At the same time, we continued the growth trajectory of our streaming service RTL+, which currently has around 4.7 million subscribers. I am very much looking forward to continuing to work with Stephan Schmitter and I wish him every success in his new role.”

Thomas Rabe continues: “My sincere thanks goes to the entire management team and all colleagues of RTL Deutschland for their great support and commitment. Over the past 15 months, we have established a new Management Board at RTL Deutschland and, in a difficult market environment, we have invested massively in the transformation of our business – in first-class content, streaming, Stern+, Gruner + Jahr and advertising technology.”

Stephan Schmitter, Chief Content Officer and incoming CEO of RTL Deutschland, says: “I am looking forward to taking on this new entrepreneurial challenge and would like to thank Thomas Rabe and RTL Group’s Executive Committee for their trust. I am convinced we have everything we need to continue shaping the transformation of our business, with great speed and from a position of strength. Our goal is to have leading brands in all genres that move and inspire our audiences in Germany, alongside outstanding colleagues full of creative power. And I believe we have the courage to take decisive action in an intensely competitive environment. Over the past few months, the Management Board has developed a clear strategy for this, which we will implement with all our strength and passion.” 

From radio to the helm of RTL Deutschland: Stephan Schmitter

Born in Munich, Stephan has served as Chief Content Officer and sat on RTL Deutschland’s Management Board since November 2022. In this role, he is responsible for all content across all channels and platforms – from shows to drama, information and sport, as well as for marketing. He is also Chairman of the Board of the Bertelsmann Content Alliance and, from 1 January 2024, will be a member of Bertelsmann’s Group Management Committee. 

Stephan began his professional career in 1996 at Radio Gong 96.3 in Munich. While studying Communication, Theatre and Political Science, he completed an internship while German comedians Bully Herbig and Rick Kavanian were also beginning their careers at the same radio station. After his internship, Stephan became co-host and sports expert on the morning show of Radio Gong 96.3, where he presented together with his mentor Mike Thiel. This was followed by positions as Editorial Director, Editor-in-Chief and finally, as Germany’s youngest Program Director of a radio station. In 2004, Stephan became Managing Director of Spreeradio in Berlin. Three years later, he took over as Managing Director of RTL Audio Center Berlin, a position he held until 2020. From 2018 until the beginning of 2023, Stephan was additionally CEO of RTL Radio Deutschland.

“I owe an incredible amount to radio, and have always worked in this area with a great deal of love and passion,” says Stephan. “Above all, the speed and the ability to try out new ideas with manageable budgets are lessons that I still benefit from today in the TV industry – even if the development and production of video content is, of course, much more complex. For TV and streaming, trends need to anticipated much further in advance.” In recent years, Stephan has proved, time and again, that he is able to do just this. The extension of Punkt 12, the relaunch and expansion of Punkt 6/7/8 and the introduction of new formats such as RTL Direkt, Stern TV am Sonntag and Gala all took place during Stephan’s time at RTL News. With the new partnership with NFL, RTL Deutschland successfully launched a cross-media sport across all channels and platforms. In the entertainment sector, new formats were also launched in RTL Deutschland’s program portfolio – such as “Die Verräter” (The Traitors) and “Krimi-Dienstag” (Crime Tuesday). These formats were well-received not only by critics, but most importantly by viewers: RTL is the leader among free-to-air TV channels in 2023, taking first place in the 14-59 target group, while Vox also grew to secure second place among the commercial channels. And the streaming service RTL+ set new records for two months in a row during September and October 2023.

As a child, Stephan also enjoyed watching commercial television – and in fact was first involved with RTL much earlier! After finishing school, Stephan appeared in the series Unsere Schule ist die beste (Our school is the best) alongside German actors Elmar Wepper and Michaela May. Today, Stephan lives in Berlin with his wife and two children, and regularly commutes to Cologne and Hamburg.