RTL Group unveils M6, Fremantle strategy amid management revamp

Deutschland 86

RTL CEO Thomas Rabe has unveiled how it plans to use companies under its control including France’s M6 Group and production giant Fremantle to drive its expansion across Europe, with a series of management changes also in the works.

The company has named Elmar Heggen, formerly chief financial officer, as chief operating officer at the company, with a remit to coordinate and optimise operations across the group’s international footprint. Björn Bauer, previously exec VP of corporate control and strategy at Bertelsmann, becomes CFO, replacing Heggen.

The broadcaster has also created a new group management committee (GMC) made up of the RTL executive leadership and CEOs of its three largest business units, to drive the group’s strategic agenda. The new committee will be made up of Rabe, Heggen and Bauer working alongside RTL Deutschland CEO Bernd Reichart, M6 Group CEO Nicolas de Tavernost and Jennifer Mullin, CEO at Deutschland 86 and The Young Pope producer Fremantle.

Thomas Rabe

Thomas Rabe

Each of the operating division chiefs will be given specific group-wide responsibilities in different areas, Rabe said, adding that his company is “shaping the future of the European ‘total video’ industry.”

“The GMC will shape the future of our company, bringing together massive experience and different perspectives. Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland will lead our newly created European advertising technology development unit, while Groupe M6 will build the technology backbone of RTL’s streaming services. And our global content business Fremantle is at the very heart of what drives our businesses – creativity and content,” said Rabe.

RTL Group is Europe’s largest broadcaster, operating more than 60 TV channels including RTL Television in Germany, M6 in France, and Antena 3 in Spain. It is also behind eight VOD services such as TV Now, and owns digital video businesses including Divimove and United Screens.

The Young Pope

The changes come amid strong Q2 growth for on-demand services at RTL Group, which has also passed responsibility for its advanced advertising units to RTL Deutschland outside of the UK. The ad tech units will be grouped under the Smartclip brand, although the UK will continue to act as the hub for SpotX Global’s operations in Europe.

Rabe said that the review of the ad business would facilitate partnerships in Europe and the US and bundle efforts and resources to build a competitive European advertising technology platform.

In it Q2 results, RTL posted strong growth for its on-demand units, with paying subscribers for its VOD platforms in Germany and the Netherlands up 46.2% to 1.2 million.

RTL posted revenues of €3.2 billion ($3.55 billion) for the first half, up 4.6% on a like-for-like basis. Earnings Before Interest Taxes and Amortization (EBITA) was flat at €538 million, weighed on by the group’s investments in programming and its video-on-demand services.

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