RTL Group, Europe’s largest commercial broadcaster, on Thursday unveiled an ambitious, and first-of-its-kind, streaming service that will see the company combine digital content across all divisions of its parent company Bertelsmann.
The new service, RTL+, will bring together on one platform the broadcast and streaming offerings of RTL Group’s television operations, e-books and podcasts from publishing subsidiary Random House, articles and reporting from the Gruner + Jahr magazine group, whose titles include national news magazine Stern, and thousands of songs available for streaming from music service Deezer.
RTL has been teasing the new service for several months now and has greenlit several high-profile German series that will launch on RTL+, including the miniseries Faking Hitler, starring Lars Eidinger and Moritz Bleibtreu, about the notorious, and notoriously faked, “Hitler Diaries,” excerpts of which were published in Stern magazine in 1983.
RTL will present the new service at an event in Berlin on Thursday with talent from the various divisions were on hand to pitch it. The service launches in Germany with video content Thursday and will expand to include non-video content in the second quarter of next year.
RTL+ is Bertelsmann’s attempt to truly compete with Netflix in Germany by offering an alternative to the 800-pound gorilla of global streaming. Thomas Rabe, CEO of RTL Group and CEO and chairman of parent Bertelsmann, said the company will triple its annual content investment to 600 million euro ($695 million) by 2026. Rabe said the company aimed to grow the base of paying subscribers to RTL+ and its Videoland streaming service in the Netherlands to 10 million by the end of 2026 and to generate 1 billion euro ($1.16 billion) and reach profitability for the two services by then. In its third-quarter results, published Thursday, RTL Group said subscriber figures jumped 90.6 percent to 3.4 million for RTL+ and Videoland.
Commenting on the company’s plans for RTL+, Rabe said the service would be “Germany’s first cross-media champion, offering our audiences the most diverse spectrum of high-quality entertainment and independent information…. RTL Group has defined clear targets for its growth businesses of streaming, addressable TV advertising and content and we will have the financial flexibility and capabilities to further boost these businesses to create value for our viewers, clients and shareholders.”
RTL+ is part of a broader move by traditional broadcasters, in Europe and worldwide, to shift their business online.
Last month, RTL Group launched a joint venture with Amobee, an online advertising platform owned by Asian communications giant Singtel, which will provide targeted digital advertising solutions for European broadcasters and streaming services.