RTL Group Increases Revenue to $3.3 Billion Despite Macro Uncertainties, But First-Half Profits Slide

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Bertelsmann’s Luxembourg-based media giant RTL Group, which owns Fremantle, has declared revenue of €3.26 billion ($3.35 billion) for the first half of 2022, a growth of 9% from the corresponding period in 2021.

The RTL Group has interests in 56 television channels, eight streaming services and 36 radio stations. The group’s content business, Fremantle, is one of the world’s largest creators, producers and distributors of scripted and unscripted content, including “American Idol,” “Britain’s Got Talent” and “The X Factor.” Revenue at Fremantle was up 8% to €983 million.

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Adjusted group earnings before interest, taxes, and amortization (EBITA) for the group was up 3.7% to €501 million, “despite more challenging macroeconomic conditions and higher streaming start-up losses,” RTL said in a statement. However, streaming was the star performer in some markets. Paying subscribers for the group’s streaming services in Germany and the Netherlands soared 48% to more than 4.5 million and streaming revenue was up 22% to €130 million.

Distribution revenue was up 3% to €220 million. Group profit was €304 million, significantly down from €929 million in the first half of 2021, which benefited from capital gains of €745 million from the sale of video advertising platform SpotX. Net cash flow from operating activities was €84 million, down from €214 million in 2021.

The group’s outlook, despite the slowdown in the German advertising market and the impact of the war in Ukraine, is positive. The group expects its revenue to increase to between €7.3 and €7.5 billion (previous guidance: €7.4 billion). The revenue increase is explained by positive scope and foreign exchange rate effects of approximately €0.5 billion and organic revenue growth of €0.2 billion to €0.4 billion, depending on the performance of the TV advertising markets in the second half of 2022.

The group expects its adjusted EBITA for 2022 to be between €1.05 and €1.15 billion (previous guidance €1.15 billion), including streaming start-up losses of approximately €250 million (2021: €166 million), unchanged from the previous guidance.

RTL Group CEO Thomas Rabe said: “RTL Group had a solid first half of the year 2022, despite the growing economic uncertainties resulting from the war in Ukraine, increasing inflation and supply chain issues. Thanks to our investments into streaming and content and the strong performance of RTL Nederland, our first-half revenue reached a new record level of €3.3 billion. Despite significantly higher streaming start-up losses and a slowdown of the TV advertising markets since March, RTL Group generated a higher adjusted EBITA — once again demonstrating our ability to generate strong financial results even in challenging conditions.”

“In the second half of 2022, we will expand RTL+ to become a cross-media entertainment service. Our content business is also accelerating, with five acquisitions and step-ups in the past six months, major talent deals and 30 planned films for 2022,” Rabe added.

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