TF1: Failure to digitally diversify ‘pure gamers’

Posted on Jul 27, 2022, 2:47 PM

At the end of 2017, TF1 announced its acquisition of Aufeminin, a well-known pure player. “This acquisition will mark a major step in the transformation of the TF1 Group,” said Jill Bellison, its president.

To win, Front Page, criticized by analysts for being too timid in digital dealings, did not hesitate to pay around 380 million euros.

Unfortunately, less than five years later, TF1 has sold most of the brands in its digital media division (Aufeminin, Marmiton, Doctissimo, les Numériques, etc.) to Reworld Media.

Selling about 60 million

Details of the operation have not been announced, but according to our information, this sale could have been made for about 60 million, or the equivalent of the sales volume of the division. Admittedly, the sale does not include MyLittleParis, which is an Aufeminin nugget, but the TF1 is included in the sale acquired by Doctissimo in 2018 with a valuation of around 15 million euros.

The group did better in the recent sale to adtech Gamned! to the HDL Fund (purchased for just under 30 million, and resold about twice as long) and to the Ykone Fund (International Impact Marketing Agency) acquired at the same time as Auféminin was acquired from a Saudi fund, which was announced a few earlier days. The price of the deal has not been revealed but it should be around fifty million euros.

TF1’s digital diversification in no way lives up to expectations … “It is far from successful,” one specialist summarizes. Analysts noted that the M6 ​​performed better in its versatility.

From the outset, many analysts spoke of a risky bet when TF1 paid out 18 times Aufeminin’s total operating surplus. At the time, the group was thinking big: it set itself a goal of transferring 250 million euros to Unify – the name shortly after its digital division – and a margin of at least 15% by 2021 (in EBITDA) … but quickly , Against the background of the health crisis, the first working group canceled its goals. On Christmas Eve 2020, the group spent up to 75 million euros in its accounts.

Aufeminine from fourth to eighth place

what happened ? The pandemic may have affected some brands. But this is not the only explanation. One of the specialists explains that “one of the main explanations undoubtedly lies in the reference to the sites.”

Aufeminin moved from fourth place among women’s sites at the end of 2017 to eighth, despite an overhaul. The number of unique visitors per month decreased from more than 8.5 million visitors in May 2018 to 5.5 million last May. Doctissimo has been halved. Only Marmite went up.

In the opinion of some, the disappointment of the Aufeminin internationally. The group tends to move away from the outside. After that, the group was not able to grow the e-commerce business as many had hoped.

In the background, the departure of several managers from the group. One observer notes that “digital is a sector of such complexity that it is difficult to establish itself as a specialist.” Finally, TF1 arrived late to the market. “At the Aufeminin, everyone wondered why he had taken the checkbook, thinking that it was doing better than his predecessor.”

Fears

For its part, TF1, which is hoping to marry the M6, is sparking a change of strategy. A spokesperson explains, “These sites are being challenged by Google and Facebook and synergies with TF1 have been limited. This sale doesn’t mean we don’t believe in digital: we are emphasizing online video presentation and are accelerating the development of MYTF1.” He adds that this sale will not have any impact on his consolidated accounts. It has already recorded losses and maintains several brands.

If TF1 claims to have received many expressions of interest, many employees are concerned about choosing Reworld. The latter, who took the nicknames Mondadori France (“Science, Life”, etc.) also became known for his controversial methods and the mass departure of journalists. There are social guarantees, but what will happen in a few years? asks an employee.

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