RTL tops on German airwaves

BERLIN – Private web RTL remained the market leader on German television in 1996, while pubcasters ARD and ZDF pushed ahead of commercial web SAT1 in a year dominated by major sporting events.

Despite a loss of 0.6% over 1995, CLT-UFA’s RTL was well ahead of the competition with a market share of 17% in 1996. The Olympics and the European soccer championships provided a boost to German pubcasters, with ARD registering a slight gain over the previous year to achieve a second-place 14.8% (+0.2%) in the ratings.

ZDF was down by 0.3% with a market share of 14.4%, but came in solidly ahead of SAT1, which slipped 1.5% in the ratings to 13.2%. SAT1, owned by Bavarian media mogul Leo Kirch and publishing house Axel Springer Verlag, was thus the biggest loser in the German ratings, falling from a tie for second place in 1995 to fourth place in 1996.

Commercial web Pro 7, in which Leo Kirch’s son Thomas and retailer REWE hold stakes, also took a hit in 1996: with ratings of 9.5% (-0.4%), Pro7 sank to sixth place behind ARD’s regional public channels, which gained 0.4 percentage points to reach 10.1% of the market. Pro7 was nonetheless in second place behind RTL among the coveted 14-49 age group.

Among the weblets, RTL2 slipped slightly to 4.5% (-0.1%) in 1996, while Kabel 1 (3.6%; +0,6), Vox (3.0%; +0,4%) and Super RTL (2.1%; +1.0%) all registered gains over the previous year.

Of the 50 top-rated programs in Germany in 1996, 34 were sporting events. The first eight places were taken by European soccer championship games, while professional boxing, shown on RTL, was the most popular sport on commercial television.

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