Reported Group revenue was up 7.2% to €1,518 million (Q1/2018: €1,416 million), mainly driven by Fremantle and digital activities. Underlying revenue was €1,496 million (Q1/2018: €1,396 million), resulting in an organic growth rate of 7.2%.
Revenue from RTL Group’s broadcasting operations was down 2.0%, to €1,084 million (Q1/2018: €1,106 million), due to soft TV advertising markets in Germany, partly due to the Easter effect, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Content revenue, which represents Fremantle, was up 41.3% to €383 million (Q1/2018: €271 million), mainly driven by the delivery of American Gods and America’s Got Talent: The Champions. For the full year 2019, RTL Group still expects Fremantle’s organic revenue to grow between 4 and 7%, excluding any impact from foreign exchange movements.
Digital revenue generated by RTL Group’s MPN activities and SpotX was up 25.0% to €105 million (Q1/2018: €84 million), thanks to growth at both BroadbandTV and SpotX. VOD revenue, generated by RTL Group’s broadcasting operations, was up 10.9% to €51 million (Q1/2018: €46 million). As a result, RTL Group’s total digital revenue was up 15.8% to €220 million (Q1/2018: €190 million).
“RTL Group had a good start to 2019, with revenue up 7.2% driven by content and digital activities and the timing of the delivery of key Fremantle productions,” said Thomas Rabe, CEO of RTL Group.
“To further improve our growth profile, our Total Video 2.0 strategy focuses on two priorities: building local streaming champions in the European countries where we have strong families of channels, and strengthening our global content arm Fremantle. We continue to make good progress on both priorities: at the end of March 2019, RTL Group registered 1.15 million paying subscribers for its video-on-demand platforms in Germany and the Netherlands – up 59 per cent year on year. Fremantle continues to fuel its pipeline for drama productions with the upcoming launches of Beecham House, Baghdad Central and La Jauría.
In the first three months of 2019, RTL Group has continued to actively manage its portfolio with the acquisition of the UK-based video technology company, Yospace, and the sale of Universum Film in Germany, which was completed in April 2019. Also during this period, Groupe M6 announced its plans to acquire TV businesses from Lagardère Group, including the famous children’s channel Gulli. This will be a major step towards strengthening our position in France, RTL Group’s second largest market. At the same time, we have decided not to acquire the remaining shares of BroadbandTV.”