Germany: Success due to quality, accessibility to foreign auds

U.S. shows occupy top-shelf space

United Kingdom

The success of U.S. series in primetime is attributable to a simple fact, say local programmers: The quality of the shows, including “CSI: Miami” and “House” on RTL and “Desperate Housewives” on ProSieben, is very strong and the shows are easily accessible to foreign auds.

RTL head of acquisitions Dirk Schweitzer says that U.S. series are a lot more complex than they used to be.

U.S. series make up one-third of RTL’s overall programming, while two-thirds is comprised of locally produced product, but, says RTL’s head of acquisitions Dirk Schweitzer, the huge success of the “CSI” franchise on RTL and on affiliate Vox has heightened the profile of American product in Germany.

“Since last year we have had a very successful U.S. series line-up Tuesday evenings with ‘CSI Miami’ followed by ‘House’ and ‘Monk,'” he points out.

In October, RTL replaced the Teutonic drama “Abschnitt 40” with its new U.S. acquisition “Bones” after the locally produced series began to slip in the ratings.

Ruediger Boess, head of acquisitions at ProSiebenSat 1, says many U.S. series have an edge over German fare due to “their excellent writing and compelling storylines.”

Programmers at ProSieben and Sat 1 have been experimenting with same-genre double-feature nights: Sunday nights on Sat 1 feature “NCIS” and “Criminal Minds,” while ProSieben has just launched Mystery Mondays with “Invasion” (ironically canceled last year by ABC) followed by “Lost.”

While some serialized shows such as “Desperate Housewives” on ProSieben are among the top U.S. shows, Schweitzer points out that local auds are generally less enthusiastic about long story arcs.

The difficulty in placing such series has held up the local debut of some upcoming shows such as Fox’s “Prison Break,” which has buzz here but may prove tough as a weekly series.

A couple of years ago, RTL 1 programmers were similarly flummoxed by Fox’s “24,” and shunted it to sibling station RTL 2. Latter smartly retooled its primetime lineup in order to air the entire first season in just four weeks: Double episodes were broadcast back-to-back on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays in primetime.

The gamble paid off and “24” became a hit for the web.

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