Channels duke it out with mostly U.S. fare

BERLIN — Another year, another “House” call. With his hit show the most watched series on primetime, Hugh Laurie has become Germany’s biggest superstar.

“House” airs Tuesdays on leading commercial web RTL Television following the channel’s other major hit, “CSI: Miami,” and remains the most successful show on German TV, regularly attracting well over 5 million viewers on average.

However, “House” has faced strong competition from pubcaster ARD’s own medical skein, “In aller Freundschaft.” And in its effort to break RTL’s super Tuesday, ARD sent its new drama, “Die Stein,” about a schoolteacher in a rural town, up against “CSI: Miami” this summer, and while Horatio Caine and his team have managed to hold their own, “Die Stein” has also proved a respectable hit.

As for RTL’s new lineup, it includes new seasons of other successful shows like “CSI,” airing Thursday nights, and “Psych,” which is replacing the long-running “Monk” on Tuesday nights following “House.” Looking ahead to next year, among RTL’s new in-house produced series will be “Lasko,” about a kung fu Catholic monk who fights for justice as a member of the secret order Pugnus Dei.

RTL’s most successful in-house production, Autobahn actioner “Alarm for Cobra 11,” is still going strong after 12 years, airing Thursday nights and leading into “CSI.”

RTL affiliate Vox, which primarily showcases U.S. fare, scheduled the premiere of Fox’s “Standoff” for Oct. 1, following “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” in a revamp of its Wednesday night lineup. Vox pulled “Men in Trees” from its Wednesday slot this summer following poor ratings.

Other new shows on Vox this season are to include NBC crime drama “Life” and USA Network’s “Burn Notice,” though they have yet to be scheduled.

Rival ProSieben, which also relies on U.S. series, recently picked up “Fringe” and is hoping the J.J. Abrams production attracts big auds when it rolls out the mystery skein next year. For the time being, ProSieben is counting on stalwarts like “Desperate Housewives,” one of its biggest hits, and “Supernatural,” which returned to its Monday night slot in October for season two.

This fall “Desperate Housewives” returns to its Wednesday slot, replacing the disappointing “Eli Stone” and leading into new show “Pushing Daisies.” ABC’s fanciful dramedy takes over from the successful “Grey’s Anatomy,” which wraps up its fourth season on the web.

On affiliate Sat.1, “Navy NCIS” remains a solid hit, airing twice weekly, Sunday and Thursday nights.

RTL 2, meanwhile, has seen interest drop in its Wednesday night superhero showcase: Both “Smallville,” in its seventh season, and “Heroes” (season two) have seen their viewer numbers dwindle, although the web’s newest show, “Flash Gordon,” faired well, debuting Sept. 24 with a 7.7 share.

The growing importance of the Internet has led to streaming on most of Germany’s main broadcasters. While pubcasters ARD and ZDF offer their series for free, RTL, ProSieben and Sat.1 charge for their high- profile U.S. shows but allow other programming, like in-house entertainment skeins and reality fare, to be accessed for free.

Top 3

“House” (RTL)

“CSI: Miami” (RTL)

“Die Stein” (ARD)

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