The RTL-owned producer and distribute reported revenue growth of 23.2% in the first half of 2019 to €828M ($747M) from €672M in the same period last year. EBITA was also up significantly from €33M to €52M.
America’s Got Talent: The Champions was a hit on NBC with an average audience of 12.4M viewers resulting in a 12.3 share, 50% higher than the network’s primetime average. Similarly, the 14th season of America’s Got Talent launched in May 2019 performed well, while American Idol was ABC’s number one entertainment series of the 2018/19 season.
In scripted, the second season of American Gods was the highest-rated season launch on the US pay-TV channel Starz in over two years with 816,000 watching the premiere. A third season has already been commissioned.
In Germany, the second season of UFA’s period drama Charité, which launched on Das Erste domestically and on Netflix in the U.S., performed well. A third season of the historical hospital series has been commissioned.
Internationally, the company’s distribution division sold the remastered version of Baywatch to over 110 territories worldwide including to Amazon Prime Video in the U.S. and UK, Hulu in the U.S. as well as to Bell Media (Canada) and Viacom (Italy).
The company said that Fremantle continues to benefit from its drama pipeline and owner RTL has forecast that Fremantle’s organic revenue is set to grow between 10% and 12%.
However, it has cautioned that Fremantle is “subject to pricing pressure from its clients and is facing reduced production and distribution volumes for some of its programme genres”. It added, “Should the business not develop new formats, or should it miss new programming trends, its results would be affected negatively.”
In the first half of 2019, the company revealed that it acquired the remaining 49% stake in Danish producer Miso, which makes Dicte and 1864, that it previously did not own. It paid €13.8M (of which deferred contingent consideration for €1.5M).
Thomas Rabe, Chief Executive Officer of RTL Group, said, “RTL Group had a successful first half of the year 2019 as the content and digital businesses further accelerated our growth. Operating profitability remained at high levels – and this despite substantially higher programming and VOD investments and restructuring charges. We will further increase our investments in content and technology. RTL Group is well positioned for the current investment cycle in the European TV industry: we have leading market positions, our streaming services are growing fast and our financial position is strong.”