Screen-savers hit it big on German TV

What do you do to capture up to an 18% market share in the wee hours of the morning? Germany’s screen-saver programming, images aired after the station signs off for the night, has hit cult status.

ORB’s aquarium (a fish video loop repeated every 20 minutes) is familiar enough to anyone owning standard computer screen-saver programs.

The TV fish are popular enough to have prompted viewer mail (complaints that the seaweed was plastic prompted a reshoot) and press coverage that has included a spot on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Der Spiegel reports that last Sept. 15, the fishies peaked with a 37.5% share — radically higher than the late night movie that preceded them.

Pubcasters have started vying with each other to come up with the best non-programming programs.

Berlin’s SFB has cultivated a loyal following with its uninterrupted S-Bahn trip through Berlin’s public transport system. The voyage of an elevated train has been documented from the driver’s-eye-view as the train wends its way, station by station, from the first stop to the end of the line.

German public broadcasting has never exactly had a reputation for being electrifying. Pubcasters are just giving ’em what they want.