RTL Group buys 51% stake in BroadbandTV

RTL Group, which owns FremantleMedia, has invested US$35.2 million in the Vancouver-based company founded and led by CEO Shahrzad Rafati (pictured), as part of an expansion of its digital distribution plan.
June 27, 2013

Luxembourg-based European entertainment network RTL Group has bought into BroadbandTV, making an initial investment of €27 million (US$35.2 million) to take a 51% stake in the Vancouver-based online video company.

The investment, announced Wednesday (June 26), is part of a planned series of purchases of stakes in BroadbandTV, which is led by founder and CEO Shahrzad Rafati (pictured above). The partnership is touted as creating a new platform in RTL’s digital strategy and allows BroadbandTV to accelerate its global growth strategy.

As part of the deal, RTL, which owns content powerhouse FremantleMedia, will appoint three people to sit on the board of BroadbandTV.

The two companies will jointly explore opportunities in areas such as development of original content and advertising sales, with an eye on the online video market.

First founded in 2005, BroadbandTV uses a proprietary technology to help large media organizations benefit from the uploading of their content on YouTube. It also offers various tools for the management, optimization, protection and monetization of video content.

BroadbandTV has more than 7,800 independent channel partners through its network brands VISO and TGN. The number of video views to BroadbandTV sites grew by 169% year-on-year, reaching 2.1 billion views in the first quarter of 2013 alone, according to a joint company statement.

Guillaume de Posch, co-CEO of RTL, said in the statement: “As the leading European entertainment network, RTL Group is committed to becoming a major player in all segments of the rapidly growing online video market, and is ideally positioned to do so. Our major broadcasters have built leading catch-up TV services, while RTL Group’s global content arm, FremantleMedia, has become the highest-rated TV producer on YouTube, with 135 channels currently generating 400 million video views per month.

“BroadbandTV is one of the most innovative companies in the YouTube ecosystem. RTL Group’s track record of allowing our businesses to be run autonomously by entrepreneurs means that BroadbandTV can maintain its culture and flexibility, while benefiting from our strong investment and partnership to drive continued growth.”

Rafati added: “BroadbandTV has been on a rapid growth trajectory since we began, and that pace will only accelerate with our partnership with RTL Group. In addition to the competitive advantage for BroadbandTV, our customers and partners will benefit greatly from RTL Group’s global reach, advertising sales and expertise in producing amazing content. Our skill sets are complementary and we share mutual goals.”

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.