German webs push fall skeds, U.S. style

TV fall schedules are being trotted out by Germany’s webs against the background of the IFA (Consumer Electronics Exhibition). Germany’s two leading private webs, RTL and SAT 1, did their dog-and-pony shows for the press legions attending the event.

While pubcasters will deal with news and information, Germany’s private webs are going with entertainment programming, much of it produced in-house.

RTL, German TV’s market leader, is sticking to its American-style success formula. Topper Helmut Thoma told an SRO crowd that hour-long series, sitcoms and telefilms will be the focal point of the 1994 program lineup. Some popular American offerings like “Cheers” have been picked up, but RTL is still trying to develop its own versions of U.S. hits.

Formats of “Married … With Children” and “Who’s the Boss?” bombed this season.

In addition to series and sitcoms, RTL will experiment with other U.S. formats. A “Nightline”-type show is in development, as is a version of “Saturday Night Live.”

Thoma said the web has invested more than $ 60 million this year in in-house production.

Meanwhile, SAT 1’s lengthy vidclip presentation left reeling journalists feeling as if they had already lived the entire fall schedule.

Web’s president Jurgen Doetz promised a concerted effort to boost SAT 1 out of its fourth-place slot in terms of market share. In programming terms, that means top-notch feature films, soccer and more in-house production.

SAT 1 plays its financial cards close to the chest, but did make some figures public. Doetz said ad revenues rounded out at 1.02 billion marks in 1992 ($ 607 million), an increase of $ 142 million from the previous year. Despite the massive losses the web took on buying soccer rights, Doetz said SAT 1 showed a $ 12 million profit last year.

Via ISPR, the sport rights agency owned by Kirch and Springer (SAT 1’s main shareholders), National Basketball Assn. rights have been acquired for an undisclosed figure and will bow on the web in the fall. DSF, a Kirch Springer sport web, will also air the games.

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