The $36M deal gives Europe’s largest commercial broadcaster a 51% stake in BroadbandTV — and a small hedge against the softening overseas ad sales that contributed to the 18.9% drop in RTL Group shares so far this year on the Frankfurt exchange. RTL Group says that the acquisition is “part of a planned series of investments” in BroadbandTV and “creates a new platform for RTL Group’s digital strategy.” Vancouver-based BroadbandTV is the fifth-largest provider of YouTube videos and will continue to be run by its charismatic Iran-born founder Shahrzad Rafati. The companies “have defined an ambitious growth plan fueled by investments in technology, advertising sales, content, international expansion and talent,” she says. The alliance “will enable content owners and creators across the globe to achieve their ambitious goals, which is one of the key reasons for BroadbandTV’s existence.”The firm mostly works with independent producers, helping them them to develop videos and then package and sell them. It attracted 16.3M unique viewers in April, comScore says. RTL will have three seats on the BroadbandTV board and “is committed to becoming a major player in all segments of the rapidly growing online video market,” says RTL co-CEO Guillaume de Posch.
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