RTL Group’s revenues drop 10%, with Fremantle profits down by $66m in 2020

American Idol

European media giant RTL Group has revealed a 9.5% drop in revenue as a result of the pandemic, with profits at its global content business Fremantle falling by €55m ($66m).

RTL, which operates almost 70 TV channels and nine streamers across Europe, said that TV advertising revenue was now climbing, following the COVID crisis.

Production bouncing back

It added that 90% of Fremantle’s productions are back on track, but the pandemic’s impact on the production and distribution giant behind shows including American Idol and The X Factor was clear, with revenues down 14.3% from €1.79bn to €1.53bn. Profits fell almost 40%, from €142m to €87m.

However, the company says that production has bounced back. “As 2020 came to a close, 90% of all Fremantle productions affected by the pandemic were either fully delivered or back in production,” said Fremantle group CEO Jennifer Mullin.

She added: “Throughout 2020, our global gameshows and continuing dramas in particular stood up extremely well to the challenges and finished the year in line with our 2019 performance.”

Streaming success

Revenue from RTL Group’s streamers TV Now in Germany and Videoland in the Netherlands grew by 21% to €170m, up from €141m last year. The number of paying subscribers jumped up 52% to 2.19 million as a result of locked-down viewers during the pandemic, the company added.

Revealing its annual financial results for 2020, the company’s revenue dropped to €6.02bn ($7.17bn), down from €6.65bn in the previous year.

Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes and amortisation (EBITA), were also down to €853m, a 14.2% decrease from €1.16bn in 2019, with profit for the year decreasing by 27.7% to €625m, down from €864m.

The company said the drop was mainly due to declining TV advertising markets across Europe in Q2 2020 and lower content production revenue as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. However, TV advertising revenue across the group was up 0.8% year-on-year in the second half of 2020, and up 2.8% year-on-year in Q4 of 2020.

“2020 was a year of both unprecedented challenge and major achievements for RTL Group,” said CEO Thomas Rabe. “We managed to strike the right balance between implementing cost and cash flow countermeasures, maintaining our market positions and investing in the future of our businesses, in particular in streaming and advertising technology.”

RTL said it expects its overall 2021 revenue to increase to around €6.2bn.

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