The entertainment giant holds 50 percent of Europe’s largest children’s channel but is focusing on its streaming platform Disney +. RTL Group has agreed to buy the Walt Disney Company stake in German kids channel Super RTL.
Cologne-based free-to-air network – Europe’s largest commercial children’s channel – a unit of Disney in 1999, RTL’s German TV division, RTL Deutschland, and BVI Television Investments, Inc. Between 50-50 was established as a joint venture.
Under the deal announced on Wednesd ay, RTL will acquire Disney’s 50 percent stake in Super RTL, giving the German group complete control of the channel. Super RTL has been a money-spinner for Disney for decades but the studio’s attention has shifted to online, with the launch of the streaming platform Disney + in Germany last year. Financial terms were not disclosed.
RTL Group, Europe’s premier commercial TV operator, also pivots to become an online-first broadcaster. Last week, the company gave Henning Teves the head of its streaming service TVNow (soon to be renamed RTL +) the top job at RTL Deutschland.
The complete acquisition of Super RTL will help the company pursue its goal of consolidating its channels into its existing European broadcast footprint and also falls among RTL’s development plans for its online activities.
In 2019, RTL Group’s French broadcasting business, Group M6, completed the acquisition of Gulli and five pay-TV channels, the country’s leading free-TV channel for children. Recently, RTL Group acquired an excellent shareholding in the television and radio businesses of RTL Belgium, making it 100 percent owned in RTL Belgium.
The sale is still to be approved by regulatory authorities in Germany and Austria but is expected later this year. Whatever the size of the check Disney received, the deal is the largest for the German market in decades, since the merger of RTL competitors ProSieben and Sat.1 in 2000.
RTL will now turn Super RTL into its “family” of German channels, including leading RTL, VOX, news network n-TV, niche channel Nitro, and women-centric RTLPlus. RTL also falls under only 36 percent of the commercial network RTL 2, whose other shareholders are KKR-owned conglomerate Lenin and German publisher The Baur Media Group. Super RTL primarily combines daytime programming with young children and families from American series such as Bones, Home, and CSI.