You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Forging a new reality in Germany

'Adventure' formats the latest buzz word

BERLIN — When is a reality show not a reality show? When it’s an adventure show.

“Big Brother”-style formats have become taboo in Germany after auds overdosed on the fare and abandoned the shows in droves.

In fact, the word “reality” is rarely spoken aloud by TV execs — the label could easily cause a program’s untimely demise. Hence the new tag.

Exotic potential

Fred Kogel, deputy chief and head of entertainment at Kirch Media, parent company of ProSiebenSat.1 Media, tells Variety there’s still potential in reality-type programs, especially shows with exotic locales as opposed to living-room settings inside a a plain-wrap house.

Adventure formats are playing a big role at the group’s format factory, Kirch Media Entertainment, which is churning out adventure programs, quiz shows and other skeins featuring real people for Kirch broadcasters as well as their commercial and pubcaster rivals.

“We are focusing on programming for German TV, and if its successful here we’ll try to sell it internationally,” adds Kogel.

The latest adventure show offering is “Desert Forges,” which preemed in July. Call it a Teutonic take on “Battle of the Network Stars”: groups of TV celebrities are pitted against each other in a variety of contests, forced to run obstacle courses and play tug-of-war in the sweltering Jordanian desert.

The show airs on commercial web ProSieben and is a follow-up to the broadcaster’s “Fort Boyard,” which premiered last summer with a similar setup, but that show was shot in an old French fort on the Atlantic coast.

Auds unsure

Unlike “Boyard,” however, “Desert Forges” has failed to make an impact on audiences, with only 1.2 million viewers tuning in for the first episode.

Despite surveys that indicate German viewers are hungry for quality documentaries and films, broadcasters continue their pursuit of cheap programming, such as the concept of interactive TV.

Weblet TM3, which is renaming itself 9 Live, is trying to capture a niche audience with its new round-the-clock interactive programming.

With a slew of call-in gameshows and talk programs, the web is looking to bypass advertisers and make viewers foot the bill with dial-up charges of about 1 mark (45¢) per call.

The broadcaster’s new late-night, six-hour erotic show, “La Notte — Sexy Night,” which airs every evening, offers erotic entertainment, dating opportunities, live guests and “sexy” games and quizzes.

TM3 programmers want to fill the schedule with similar interactive fare, including a morning program, an amateur talent show and travel skeins, all of which ask viewers to call up, occasionally promising a cash jackpot of up to 1 million deutschmarks for correct answers to questions.

This “transaction TV” strategy hasn’t taken off for the mini-web’s owners, ProSiebenSat.1 and shopping network HOT.

Gimmick at a loss

The channel has seen the 1% market share it had at the beginning of the year, when it was still airing old U.S. reruns and movies, dwindle to around 0.3%.

Critics say the gimmick will continue to keep viewers as well as advertisers away. In June, the channel reportedly garnered about $1 million from dial-up revenue.

More TV

  • Jussie Smollett, Method Man, Danielle Brooks

    Jussie Smollett Episode of TNT's 'Drop The Mic' Pulled In Wake of Scandal

    TNT has pulled an upcoming episode of its hip-hop roast battle show “Drop the Mic” featuring “Empire” star Jussie Smollett. The episode, set to air March 6, was yanked following the arrest of Smollett on Thursday for allegedly staging a hate crime against himself. In the episode, Danielle Brooks, who plays Taystee on “Orange Is [...]

  • Reese Witherspoon

    Starz to Develop 'Kin' Series With Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine

    Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine banner has inked a deal with Starz to develop “Kin,” Variety has learned. The multi-generational family drama comes from “Queen Sugar” and “Constantine” writer Davita Scarlett who developed the project with Chester Jones III. Witherspoon and Hello Sunshine Film and TV head Lauren Neustadter are on board as EPs alongside Scarlett. [...]

  • David Shuster Michelle Makori I24

    Altice Aims to Carve Out Niche in Cable With Global-Themed i24News

    Who would invest in the U.S. launch of a linear, 24/7 cable news network in the current climate of bloodletting for niche cable channels? Patrick Drahi, the French-Israeli media mogul who controls Altice USA and Altice Europe, that’s who. Multiple system operator Altice USA is slowly but steadily expanding the cable distribution base for i24News, [...]

  • Sunday Night Football Ratings

    Pete Bevacqua Expands Oversight of NBC Sports

    Pete Bevacqua, who joined NBC Sports Group as president in September of last year, will gain more oversight of the NBCUniversal unit in the wake of a recent restructuring of the executive ranks of the corporation. Bevacqua retains his role as president, but will oversee the entire NBC Sports Group portfolio, adding NBC Olympics, production, [...]

  • 'Robin Hood' Director Otto Bathurst to

    Showtime's 'Halo' Series Enlists 'Robin Hood' Director Otto Bathurst

    Showtime’s adaptation of the wildly popular video game “Halo” has found its new director. The network has announced that Otto Bathurst will assume the director’s chair for multiple episodes, as well as serving as EP for the live-action series. Bathurst’s most recent directorial credits include last year’s adaption of “Robin Hood” with Taron Egerton and [...]

  • 'Haunting of Hill House' Renewed, Creators

    'Haunting of Hill House' Renewed as Anthology, Creators Ink Overall TV Deal at Netflix

    “The Haunting of Hill House” is returning to Netflix–sort of. The streaming giant has ordered a new installment in what they are calling “The Haunting” anthology, meaning the  next chapter of the horror series will feature an entirely new story and new characters from those seen in the first season. In addition, Netflix has entered [...]

  • Peter Tork dead

    Peter Tork of the Monkees Dies at 77

    Peter Tork, the guitarist and wise-cracking character in the 1960s teen-pop sensation the Monkees, died today at the age of 77, a rep for the group confirmed to Variety. Speaking with the Washington Post, Tork’s sister Anne Thorkelson did not specify a cause of death, although the guitarist had been diagnosed with a rare form [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content