Sales of RTÉ shows Taken Down, Hardy Bucks and Operation Transformation last year contributed to RTÉ's commercial arm increasing its pretax profits by 22 per cent to €8.89 million.
New accounts filed by RTÉ Commercial Enterprises DAC show the slimmed-down division recorded the pre-tax profits rise in spite of revenues decreasing by 9 per cent from €20.26 million to €18.47 million.
The commercial division generates revenues from overseas sales of shows and sponsorship and sales of the RTÉ Guide, and the profits it delivered last year were not enough to prevent the national broadcaster recording an overall loss of €13 million for 2018.
According to the directors’ report for the commercial arm, overall revenues and costs reduced last year primarily due to the transfer of GAAGO activities into a separately established joint venture company.
It says Taken Down, co-written by Stuart Carolan and Jo Spain, secured a significant distribution deal and a broadcast sale to ARTE France and Germany. Meanwhile, the Hardy Bucks was licensed to Netflix worldwide, while The Clinic – which helped launch the acting careers of Amy Huberman and Chris O'Dowd – was relicensed to Acorn TV USA and UK. Operation Transformation, presented by Kathryn Thomas, was sold to SC4 in Wales.
The report says the RTÉ Guide had a challenging year, with a small decline year on year in revenues from advertising and circulation partly compensated for by a cover price increase.
Numbers employed last year reduced from 35 to 23 and staff costs reduced from €2.5 million to €1.73 million.
The GAAGO joint venture recorded revenues of €1.33 million last year and recorded profits of €118,000.
Income from advertising and sponsorship for RTÉ’s commercial operation reduced from €874,000 to €710,000, while revenues from “content, merchandising and related sales” reduced from €13.3 million to €12.17 million, and facilities income reduced from €2.6 million to €2.3 million. Circulation income reduced from €3.3 million to €3.19 million.