Press releases and news
“We are here to build and to invest”
RTL Group COO and Deputy CEO Elmar Heggen and RTL Hungary CEO Gabriella Vidus discuss streaming, sports rights and consolidation in a joint interview published on Portfolio.hu.

RTL Hungary has been operating in Hungary since 1997, having evolved from a single-channel operation into a dominant player in the Hungarian media landscape – both linear and digital. The company launched its streaming service RTL+ in October 2022 and added four new linear TV channels to its portfolio one year later. 2024 started strong for RTL Hungary, with flagship channel RTL being the most successful channel in Hungary during the first three months of the year thanks to locally produced series and news content.

“We are long-term investors”, says Elmar Heggen, Deputy CEO and COO of RTL Group, in a recent interview published on Portfolio.hu. Besides the digital transformation RTL Group is currently undergoing both internationally and in Hungary, Elmar – together with RTL Hungary CEO Gabriella Vidus – spoke about the broadcasting rights for the UEFA Champions League, RTL Group’s consolidation strategy, as well as the Group’s commitment to its Hungarian business.

Streaming: Mastering digital transformation

“To succeed, it's important to complement our families of linear TV channels with a strong streaming offer”, says Elmar when asked about the streaming business. While RTL Hungary’s free-to-air channels have higher daily reach compared to other markets, Elmar believes that the Hungarian market won’t be an exception in the long run when it comes to viewing time on linear TV.

Therefore, Elmar adds: “We must also prepare for change in Hungary, which is why we have started investing in streaming, just think about the UEFA Champions League, the Europa League, and the Conference League. This also means that we are willing to invest significant amounts, because we believe this is necessary to build a successful streaming business in Hungary.”

Football rights: Changing the playing field

Following the news that RTL Hungary has acquired the broadcasting rights to the UEFA Champions League starting this autumn, there was a strong reaction both from fans and the media industry due to RTL Hungary moving most of the matches to its streaming service RTL+, raises Portfolio.hu’s journalist.

“I think these accusations stemmed from the fact that the competition didn't like the taste of it”, reacts Gabriella Vidus, who was recently named the most influential female executive in the Hungarian media industry for the 10th time. She adds: “We changed the playing field. (…) Many doubt the correctness of this step, but we are convinced that we will have a positive impact on the viewing habits of football fans.”

Viewers will have the flexibility to choose which match they would like to see each evening, emphasises Gabriella, while everyone will have access to the matches broadcast on Sport1 and Sport2, as RTL Hungary is also the holder of the B license.

Consolidation: Monitoring opportunities

“We believe in the necessity of consolidation. If you don't have the appropriate scale, you won't be able to compete with the global tech and streaming giants in the medium to long term”, says Elmar, explaining the rationale behind the attempted merger with DPG Media in the Netherlands, which was blocked by the competition authorities.

As for Hungary, “we are here to build and invest”. Elmar continues: “We see a lot of opportunities. In 2011, we acquired seven cable channels to build a strong, complementary family of channels.” This was followed by an attempt to acquire shareholding in Central Digital Media, a leading web publisher, but this was ultimately blocked by the Hungarian competition authorities.

Elmar highlights that that their consolidation strategy is also a question of opportunities, and RTL Group is in Hungary to build. “A good example is the development of RTL+, as well as all our other investments: in content, in tech and data, and in RTL Hungary’s new headquarters and news studio in the centre of Budapest.”

Speaking of RTL Hungary’s new headquarters, Gabriella discusses some of the challenges that arise around moving parts of their operation to a new base in downtown Budapest. “On the one hand, we need to ensure the continuous operation of the studios, and the situation also means that all autumn productions are already in progress”, she explains.

While the next two months will be all about completing the new base on time, the Champions League will also begin shortly after, further adding to the challenges. Moreover, despite appearing healthy again this year, the advertising market might pose challenges in autumn. “We wouldn't want to be in a situation where there are unmet customer demands on the table, so I hope that by the end of the year, all our customers will be satisfied and happy”, explains Gabriella.

RTL Hungary: Part of the core family

When asked about RTL Group’s commitment to the Hungarian market, Elmar reminds that they created the business in 1997 and built it up themselves. He adds: “When you give life to a new TV group, it's a somewhat different feeling than when you acquire a company, optimise it a bit, and then potentially sell it off. It doesn't work that way when someone belongs to the core family, and RTL Hungary is part of our family in that sense.”

Despite Hungary being a relatively small and crowded market with a high number of TV channels and a well-funded competitor, Elmar regards Hungary as a relevant market. With the support of local management, including Gabriella Vidus who has been leading the company as CEO since 2015, there are ways to grow and achieve success, even if this means decreased profitability for a certain period, believes Elmar.

He concludes: “RTL Group is a strategic, long-term investor. And we are very confident that we'll be able to move forward together into the non-linear future.”

Contacts

Oliver Fahlbusch

Executive Vice President Communications & Investor Relations, RTL Group

+352 / 24 86 5200

oliver.fahlbusch@rtl.com