In a recent interview with the Hungarian Marketing & Media magazine MédiaFigyelő, Gabriella Vidus, CEO of RTL Hungary, talked about the company’s performance, its content style and focus points for 2020 and beyond.
And are you satisfied with the performance of the company this year?
I am indeed, as launching the distributional leg of the digital line was an immense task, and it was a success content-wise, technologically and in sales too. We got really good results in the number of visitors, viewership both digitally and in linear TV. In fact, we have even surpassed our own and the parent company’s expectations of the digital line.
And the parent company must be satisfied with your performance too, because if I’m not mistaken, that thing on the shelf that says Bertelsmann is an award.
It is, you are right; I received it in May at the Bertelsmann executive meeting in Gütersloh. Thomas Rabe, the CEO of RTL Group and Bertelsmann gave me the Bertelsmann Entrepreneurial Award in Leadership category. It was a truly special moment for me, I am proud of my colleagues, as it is the recognition of our joint effort.
After five years, there are state-commissioned advertisements on RTL again. What does this mean for the company?
It means that the channels of RTL Hungary are indispensable even for public advertisers, as we are talking about the channel portfolio of the highest viewership rating. We could say that this is normal, and not what was going on in the past five years. I don’t know to what degree is it “fair share” within the entirety of state television spending. But I do know that it currently means 1.9 billion Hungarian Forints in revenue for us this year. In previous years, it was 100–200 million Forints, so it is a significant increase in revenues that wasn’t even planned, and so we treat it separately, as an amount not to be spent.
But it is more interesting whether you, as the CEO, think that the content or the style of your news programmes have changed.
In the time that I have led the company, the style of the Híradó news programme has not changed. If you are suggesting that we have state-commissioned advertisements because some kind of request was made, nothing of the sort has happened. By the way, there were state advertisements that we did not accept because of their content.
Can you say anything about what RTL Hungary will focus on in 2020?
Focuses do not shift from one year to the next. We continue on the path we embarked on four–five years ago. So we are investing more and more energy into digital developments. It also means that there will be even more focused on content that we produce especially for the digital platform or which are initially available there. For instance, the first three episodes of the telenovela Bátrak földje or the series Négy esküvő egy temetés. These will not be available on the linear channels, or only much later. Of course, the consumers will have to be eased into this. Within content creation, fiction series will continue to have a significant role. Our other focal point content-wise will be reality television. Regarding the sales house, our market leader position is secured for the next couple of years.
You told MédiaFigyelő in 2004 that you consider your worst quality being terribly impatient, and your best feature empathy and being a good judge of character. Do you find these are still true now, 15 years later?
Ádám Rényi once wrote about me that he thinks I became more “gentle and open” over the years, which was very nice of him, but the above-mentioned things actually still hold true. I am somewhat more patient today, but not much, but probably that is why I can handle the fact that everything is changing all the time. In this profession, the only constant is change. You have to keep innovating; you can never do something one way or another just because “that’s how it’s done”. What I have changed more in during these years is that I have learned which battles to fight and which are better left alone.