FunAstrologyRTL: The largest private broadcaster on German television

RTL: The largest private broadcaster on German television

RTL is much more than just a German television station: a popular topic of debate and a powerful opinion maker. The multimedia company at a glance.

Frankfurt/Cologne – RTL Germany is a private media group based in Cologne and emerged from RTL (Radio Télévision Luxembourg). The group originally came about as an offshoot of the German-language radio program Radio Luxemburg. In Germany, RTL Television is classified as a group of private full-service television channels under the State Media Treaty.

RTL Deutschland GmbH
industry media company
founding 1984 in Luxembourg (as RTL Television)
Seat Cologne (since 1988)
management Stephan Schäfer, Matthias Dang
employees 7500 (as of 2021)
sales volume 2.1 billion euros

In addition to RTL, RTL Germany includes the television channels VOX, Super RTL, RTLNitro, RTLPlus, n-tv and RTL2. RTL Deutschland is part of the international media company RTL Group SA, headquartered in Luxembourg, which claims to have generated sales of 6.7 billion euros in 2019. The stock corporation, which operates as a Societé Anonyme, directly employs around 11,000 people and owns numerous multimedia production companies.

RTL: How does Germany’s largest private broadcaster group actually earn their money?

According to AGF Videoforschung, RTL is the media group with the highest average ratings in the German-speaking world after the public service broadcaster with its largest representatives ARD and ZDF. The Company’s principal activities include operating 15 television channels, distributing multiple digital platforms, producing film, television and radio content, and marketing its media products and services.

Apart from the main business in the television sector, RTL produces and sells print products and sound carriers and also has shares in numerous production companies that provide various media content and television formats and sell them throughout Germany. In recent years, the company has also expanded into the production of podcasts.

The history of RTL and its roots in Luxembourg

RTL Television celebrated its launch as a German-language television channel on January 2, 1984 from Luxembourg. In order to obtain additional frequencies for the transmission of further television channels, the company relocated its headquarters to Cologne in 1988. The media group was thus able to quickly establish itself as the largest factor in German-speaking private television and launch numerous other channels.

In 2007, RTL Television became part of the umbrella company Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland . This is a German subsidiary of the international media company RTL Group, which was founded as a private broadcaster in Luxembourg in the 1920s as Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Télédiffusion.

Even more information and positive entertainment, full of responsibility and joy

Stephan Schäfer, Managing Director Content & Brands Mediengruppe RTL Germany

From September 13, 2021, the official name of the company will be RTL Germany. The name change came with a slightly different logo and a new content strategy. According to RTL Germany CEO Bernd Reichart, the focus of the new corporate vision is now on a “common RTL brand that bundles its radiance and stands for positive entertainment, independent journalism, inspiration, energy and attitude”.

Die neue RTL United-Kampagne mit Plakaten nach der Vorlage von Maurice Masson und der neuen Markenidentität des Senders. Das RTL-Logo ist nun ein Multi-Color-Logo, das seine Farben stets wechselt.


The new RTL United campaign with posters designed by Maurice Masson and the channel’s new brand identity. The RTL logo is now a multi-color logo that constantly changes colors.

RTL Group, RTL Germany and Bertelsmann: Structure of the RTL Group

RTL Deutschland GmbH is registered as a limited liability company under German law in the company register. The main purpose of your company is to “protect the overarching interests of the individual companies and all related activities”.

100 percent of RTL Deutschland’s share capital is held by UFA Film und Fernsehen GmbH, which in turn is wholly owned by RTL Group Deutschland GmbH. The RTL Group is listed and more than 75 percent belongs to the international group Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA based in Gütersloh.

Das Logo der RTL Group am neuen Verwaltungsgebäude in Luxemburg.


The RTL Group logo on the new administration building in Luxembourg.

“Who wants to be a millionaire”, “GZSZ”, “Exclusive”, “DSDS”, “Stern TV” and “Das Supertalent”: well-known RTL formats

The repertoire of television programs from the RTL universe consists of decades-old classics and a constant stream of new formats. It ranges from soaps like the evergreen “Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten” (GZSZ), quiz shows like the long-running “Who wants to be a millionaire”, talent shows like “Deutschland sucht den Superstar” (DSDS) to journalistic magazines like “Exclusive”.

In autumn 2021, RTL launched a self-proclaimed news offensive, part of which is the compact news format RTL Direkt. The former Tagesschau and Tagesthemen moderators Jan Hofer and Pinar Atalay could be won over for this. Along with this, the broadcaster formulated a new strategy, presumably also for image reasons. An overview of popular RTL Group programs:

Shows broadcast on weekdays:

broadcast Type
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (since 1999) quiz show
5 against Jauch (2009) quiz show
Good Times Bad Times (1992) Soap opera
Among Us (1994) Soap opera
All That Matters (2006) Soap opera
Explosive (1992) Tabloid and consumer magazine
Exclusive (1994) tabloid magazine
Extra (1994) Tabloid and consumer magazine
Point 12 (1992) lunch journal
RTL current (1988) main newscast
RTL Night Journal (1994) newsmagazine
RTL Direct (2021) news journal
Mirror TV Magazine (1988) themed magazine
Star TV (1990) themed magazine

Weekly broadcasts:

broadcast Type
Alert for Cobra 11 (since 1996) action series
CSI: Miami (2005) crime series
Deutschland sucht den Superstar (2002) casting show
Super Talent (2006) casting show
The Bachelor (2004) dating show
The Bachelorette (2004) dating show
Farmer Seeks Wife (2005) dating show

Günther Jauch, Oliver Pocher and Co.: personalities from the RTL universe

A number of well-known actors, journalists, presenters and TV stars have shaped RTL’s television offering over the years. Some of them have left the station over the years, others are still part of the permanent ensemble. A selection of the RTL asterisks:

  • Günther Jauch ‒ “Who wants to be a millionaire”, “Stern TV”, “5 against Jauch”
  • Oliver Pocher ‒ “5 against Jauch”, “Dangerously honest”
  • Frauke Ludowig ‒ “Exclusive”
  • Birgit Schrowange – “Extra”
  • Nazan Eckes – “Explosive”, “Extra”
  • Daniel Hartwich ‒ “Deutschland sucht den Superstar” (DSDS), “Das Supertalent”, “I’m a star – get me out of here!”, “Let’s Dance”
  • Dieter Bohlen ‒ “DSDS”, “The Super Talent”
  • Kai Ebel ‒ coverage of Formula 1
  • Sonja Zietlow – “I’m a star – get me out of here!”, “The 10th”, “The 25th…”
  • Mario Barth – “Welcome to Mario Barth”, “Mario Barth reveals!”
  • Wolfgang Bahro – “Good times, bad times” (GZSZ)
  • Pinar Atalay – RTL Direct
  • Jan Hofer – RTL direct
Musikproduzent Toby Gard (links), Sängerin Ilse DeLange und Schlagerstar Florian Silbereisen sind die neue Jury der RTL-Castingshow "Deutschland sucht den Superstar" (DSDS).


Music producer Toby Gard (left), singer Ilse DeLange and pop star Florian Silbereisen are the new jury of the RTL casting show “Deutschland sucht den Superstar” (DSDS).

ProSieben, Sat1, Kabel Eins, Netflix and Amazon Prime: The competition from RTL

The second largest group of private broadcasters in German-language television – and thus RTL’s biggest competitor – is ProSieben Sat1 Media SE, based in Unterföhring in Upper Bavaria. It includes the stations ProSieben, Sat1, Kabel Eins and Sixx. In terms of content, many of their programs are similar to those of RTL, which is why various moderators regularly switch between the two stations.

Since RTL also operates a paid online platform for on-demand content with the streaming provider RTL+, formerly TVNow, they are in direct competition with the industry giants Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sky Ticket, Magenta TV and YouTube Premium and Joyn (ProSieben Sat1). According to the press release, RTL+ wants to focus more on exclusive content in the future.

With 2.4 million subscribers, a monthly price of EUR 4.99 (as of Q3 2021), a 30-day notice period and numerous formats from the US series giant HBO, the RTL+ offer is considered a cheaper alternative to the competition with a distinctive Focus on entertainment content. However, the bandwidth of the currently available catalog can hardly keep up with that of the major international competitors.

Criticism of the RTL television program

For years, the private broadcaster RTL has been criticized time and again that the information content of its television program is manageable for viewers and sometimes misleading and that the company’s content orientation contributes to a general loss of culture, especially among younger audiences. Here entertainment is clearly in the foreground before imparting knowledge or information.

The broadcaster was repeatedly criticized in the media for presenting several of its formats, such as The Super Nanny or In the Middle of Life , as documentaries, although they were actually scripted reality – i.e. stories with a given plot thread. Repeated negative statements by the protagonists of these formats about the shooting methods of the production companies involved contributed to the criticism.

In a 2015 article, Zeit Online described the private broadcaster as “underclass television” with “irresponsible Ballermann fun, which structurally turns the lie into a fact and doses objectivity homeopathically at best.” In the same article, RTL’s figurehead and model presenter Günther Jauch is described as the “Emperor of Entertainment”. , but denied him serious journalism.

An RTL scandal and the term “lying press”

At the end of 2014, a scandal broke out when an undercover RTL reporter pretended to be a Pegida demonstrator and appeared in the program “Contact attempt: ‘Lügenpresse’ meets Pegida” on the NDR television magazine Panorama . The incident became public – RTL ended its collaboration with the reporter after heavy criticism across Germany. (Raphael Digiacomo)

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