entertain, inform and connect

Since March 2022, DPG Media is a 50 per cent shareholder in RTL Belgium, which owns three TV channels and two radio stations. New RTL Belgium CEO Guillaume Collard has a crystal clear game plan: by investing in local content and strong brands, and by accelerating digitisation, he wants to become market leader on all fronts. Is he biting off more than he can chew? “I’m a realist, but more than anything else I’m an optimist.”

As a young boy, Guillaume Collard, 38, didn’t have dreams of one day becoming CEO of a media company in French-speaking Belgium. “I wanted to become a professional footballer,” he recalls. Unfortunately, he just wasn’t good enough, he says. “I never outlined my career plan. My advice is to do what you love. If I no longer enjoy my job, I would leave.”

That certainly isn’t the case in his current position. On the contrary, Collard is about to implement a three-year plan that he’s incredibly excited about. “I’m convinced that, together with DPG Media and Rossel (which each own 50 per cent of RTL Belgium’s shares), we’re going to add an exciting new chapter to our story.”

Three's a charm

For Collard, good things always come in threes. RTL Belgium’s three-year plan can be summed up in three words: We are RTL. And behind those words is a three-part mission: divertir, informer et rassembler – entertain, inform and connect. To achieve this, Collard has set – you guessed it – three strategic priorities: invest in local content, boost RTL’s brands and accelerate the company’s digitisation.

“Despite the difficult economic circumstances, we’re going to invest in 2023. This sends a very important signal, and it’s proof that we’re serious about achieving our goals,” Collard says. “Obviously, we’re going to be responsible about how we spend our money and do everything we can to keep a balanced budget. But our ambition is to claim market leadership on all fronts: TV, radio and digital.”

Local content is key

Appointed CEO in June 2022, Collard hit the ground running by implementing a new strategy and overhauling RTL’s organisational structure only a few months later, in September. Creating content around news, entertainment and sports will be a main focus, as will accelerating the company’s digital transformation. As CEO, Collard runs all content activities himself. “Content is the beating heart of our company,” he explains. “It’s my responsibility to get all our talented experts working together so that all our content becomes available on all our platforms.”

Local content – both original and co-produced – is given priority. Because as a media company in French-speaking Belgium, RTL feels the streaming services and French channels breathing down its neck. “Local content will set us apart from our competitors and trigger a whole chain reaction. After all, it’s content that’s created together with local talent, backed up by strong, local marketing. This is how you build an emotional connection with your viewers and listeners, which goes hand in hand with better ratings and, hopefully, growing ad revenue.”

Digital transformation

RTL Play will have a special role in both the content strategy and within the digital transformation. “We want to have the number one streaming platform in French-speaking Belgium.” Not only will exclusive content be created for the platform, but there will be additional investments in RTL Play’s technology and marketing as well. “And the platform should also contribute to the growth of digital ad revenue, of course.”

Digitising the advertising model is high on the list of priorities too, especially with players including Netflix and Disney emerging as potential competitors. “Like DPG Media, we want to move towards addressable and non-skippable advertising,” Collard says. “But in the end, it’s all about the content. That’s how we win over viewers and advertisers on our digital platforms.”

Does Collard ever get stressed by all these ambitions? The answer is a resounding non. “There’s a good atmosphere. We are RTL. That’s not just a phrase, that’s who we are. Isn’t that fantastic?”

Guillaume Collard

(38), CEO RTL BelgiUM