Stephan Schmitter will take over as the new CEO at German broadcast giant RTL Deutschland as of January 1, 2024.
Schmitter will add the CEO duties to his current responsibilities as chief content officer at RTL. As CEO, Schmitter will oversee RTL Deutschland’s broadcasting business in Germany, including its free-to-air RTL and Vox channels, its streaming service RTL+, and the company’s publishing business Gruner + Jahr.
“Stephan Schmitter lives and embodies RTL,” said Thomas Rabe, CEO of parent company RTL Group. “This year, RTL was the only main channel in Germany to increase its audience share in the key target group. Vox became the second-most popular commercial channel, and our family of channels significantly expanded its market leadership. At the same time, we continued the growth trajectory of
our streaming service RTL+, which currently has around 4.7 million subscribers.”
In fact, RTL is struggling in Germany, its core market, amid a stubbornly weak television ad market. RTL Group last week posted a 6.9 percent drop in turnover from January to September 2023 to €4.66 billion ($4.98 billion), a fall largely due to poor ad sales. RTL Group now expects TV ad revenue, its core source of income, to drop by a mid-single-digit percentage in the second half of 2023 and for Fremantle’s full-year revenue to be lower than expected.
RTL’s streaming business RTL+ is a bright light. Subscriber figures for its SVOD services — RTL operates the RTL+ platform in Germany and Hungary and the Dutch service Videoland — were up more than 30 percent year-on-year and streaming revenues in the first nine months of this year were up 21 percent. But streaming is still a money loser for RTL, which only expects its SVOD business to reach profitability by 2026.
Schmitter, however, said he was optimistic RTL can turn things around.
“I am convinced we have everything we need to continue shaping the transformation of our business, with great speed and from a position of strength,” he said in a statement. “Our goal is to have leading brands in all genres that move and inspire our audiences in Germany, alongside outstanding colleagues full of creative power. And I believe we have the courage to take decisive action in an intensely competitive environment.”