German TV host dismisses 'target audience' talk

Thomas Gottschalk, long the undisputed king of the ratings hill in Germany with his “Wetten, dass…?” (Wanna Bet?) program, is probably the last person you’d expect to hear railing about the tyranny of ratings.

But Gottschalk, whose monthly talkshow/game show on pubcaster ZDF draws far north of 10 million viewers, got extremely annoyed when someone pointed out that most of those viewers were either younger than 14 or older than 49.

“What really annoys me is this ostracizing mentality,” Gottschalk, 52, told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper March 2. “Everyone talks about ‘the target group for advertisers.’ I got more than 10 million viewers with the last show. But in the target group, it was ‘only’ 3.2 million.

“I just don’t understand that. Are all those viewers who are not between 14 and 49 second-class people? That’s just idiotic.”

Gottschalk, a former radio DJ who lives in Malibu, Calif., and commutes the long distance to Germany for the monthly show, added: “I’d rather have viewers like the relaxed 52-year-old man sitting at home in his recliner than the 17-year-old jerk who only spends all his time downloading new ringtones for his cellphone.”

Of course, Gottschalk’s frustrations have little relevance to his own show, as there are no commercial breaks before, during or after his broadcasts. German pubcasters aren’t allowed to run ads after 8 p.m.

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