Fremantle Parent RTL Group Posts 9% Revenue Decline as Advertising Slumps

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Fremantle parent RTL Group on Thursday posted a 9% drop in revenue for the first quarter, citing slowing advertising markets in Germany and France, the European television giant’s core markets.

The company said revenue fell to $1.55 billion across all of its business.

Fremantle, the content production house behind a host of game shows like “The Price is Right” and “America’s Got Talent,” reality programing like “Farmer Wants a Wife” and narrative series like “Normal People” and the upcoming reboot of “Baywatch,” saw revenue fall to $473.1 million, from $513.4 million in the 2022 first quarter. RTL said the drop was “mainly due to timing effects of production deliveries.”

RTL Group projected $3.26 billion in revenue for Fremantle for the full year. For all of 2022, Fremantle posted revenue of $2.46 billion.

During the quarter, Fremantle debuted “Japan’s Got Talent” and “Saudi Idol” and launched German version of “Too Hot to Handle” for Netflix, along with the successful launch on Fox of “Farmer Wants a Wife.” It also brought “Wreck” to Hulu and released the documentary “Waco: American Apocalypse” on Netflix.

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In February, Fremantle inked a two-year partnership with Nine Hours, the new label from Edward Berger, director of the Oscar-winning “All Quiet on the Western Front.” The agreement gives Fremantle first-look access to Nine Hours’ television projects and second-look access to new film projects.

It also took a minority stake in the production company Artists, Writers and Artisans in February. And it is aiming to expand its documentary business, as reflected in a March first-look deal with documentary filmmaker Amy Berg, the director of HBO’s “The Case Against Adnan Syed”

The unit also acquired a majority stake in A Teams Productions, based in Belgium, and launched Undeniable, a new documentary-focused label, during the quarter.

With its sights set on boosting the unit’s revenue, RTL Group said it “will invest significantly in Fremantle – both organically and via acquisitions – in all territories across drama and film, entertainment and factual shows and documentaries.”

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RTL, a subsidiary of Germany’s Bertelsmann, said the free TV ad markets were down significantly in Germany and France, while the Netherlands saw a modest slowdown.

Quarterly advertising revenue plunged 15.6% to $761.3 million. Of that, $592.7 million represented TV advertising revenue, $82.7 million came from digital advertising and $42 million from radio.

The slump, which the company does not see reversing itself in the current quarter, came despite an increase in audience share in the two larger markets.

Among the positives during the first three months of the year for RTL Group was a 37% year-over-year leap in paying subscribers for its streaming services, which reached 5.9 million.

In Germany, the increase was 38.4% to 4.4 million. In the Netherlands, streaming subscriptions jumped 9.4% to 1.2 million. In Hungary, where the company launched its streamer in November, subscribers reached 277,000. The company is targeting 10 million subscribers by the end of 2026.