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Teutons max out on reality

Auds don't want shows like 'Big Brother,' study finds

BERLIN — The initial successes of “Big Brother” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” prompted an explosion of similar shows, with the result that a majority of German viewers are up to their eyeballs in reality TV and quizshows.

Either the Teutons are a fickle bunch or networks have overplayed their hand: A study in February by market research company Emnid found that 87% of those surveyed wanted fewer reality shows like “Big Brother.”

The report was backed by sinking ratings that have led media watchers to question whether reality TV is a short-lived trend or a lasting fixture.

The failure of SAT 1’s “Girl’s Camp” was a blow to its new managing director, Martin Hoffmann. It has failed to spark interest among viewers and has become a costly ratings disaster.

SAT 1 considered quitting reality TV altogether after “Girls’ Camp” went belly-up. Web rejected similar shows like “The Big Diet” but is giving a chance to a local version of Austria’s “Taxi Orange” this fall.

On rival RTL2, ratings for the third series of “Big Brother” have similarly been in the pits, leading the broadcaster to postpone the fourth run until next year. Show’s market share has fluctuated between 5% and 7% among its 14- to 49-year-old target viewers.

Last year, “Big Brother” helped boost the broadcaster’s revenues by 31%, but RTL2 has been forced to slash its advertising prices on the program by as much as 45%.

While other shows have been postponed or canceled, RTL2 has four more formats in the works, but only “Big Diet” is set to preem later this year.

“Clearly, real-life formats are here to stay, though the initial hype has settled,” says RTL2 topper Josef Andorfer, who adds that it is an “oversupply, rather than a tiring effect which has had an impact on the ratings of other reality shows.”

While web heads blame each other for saturating the market, media watchers say networks have to be careful not to put all their eggs in one basket. Half of auds say they’d rather have movies, while 22% want more sports.

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