March 13, 2019 / 5:26 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Broadcaster RTL aims to treble streaming audience

* To spend 350 mln euros more on streaming services, content

* Targets 3 million subscribers in the next three years

* Core earnings to decline in 2019 as company invests (Adds results detail, context)

FRANKFURT, March 13 (Reuters) - European broadcaster RTL will invest 350 million euros ($396 million) in its paid streaming services over the next three years, as it seeks to meet the challenge of global giants like Netflix.

RTL forecast that revenue would grow by as much as 5 percent this year but core earnings would decline by a similar amount as the Luxembourg-based broadcaster invests in programming and building its stable of video-on-demand services.

“We will focus on two clear priorities: building local streaming champions and strengthening our content creation,” CEO Bert Habets said in a statement.

RTL, controlled by German publisher Bertelsmann, said it had passed 1 million viewers with its streaming services in Germany and the Netherlands.

Over the next three years, the company aims to increase that figure to at least three million as it launches national services in other European markets where it is present.

RTL has, like its German competitor ProSiebenSat.1 Media , faced headwinds from weak TV advertising that still contributes nearly half of its revenue.

It has spurned ProSieben’s appeal to team up on streaming, instead pursuing a go-it-alone strategy supported by a focus on local-language programming.

RTL reported fourth-quarter revenue of 2.037 billion euros, up 0.7 percent for the year and just shy of mean expectations in a poll of financial analysts.

Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were 488 million euros. After adjusting for the one-off effect of a real estate sale in the same period a year ago, those core earnings were up by 1.5 percent.

Management proposed a final 2018 dividend of 3 euros per share, bringing its total payout for the year to an unchanged 4 euros. ($1 = 0.8846 euros) (Reporting by Douglas Busvine Editing by Tassilo Hummel; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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