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Teuton tube wars heat up

Reality shows cool down

DUSSELDORF — With the thrill of far-out reality shows fading, German TV stations are sticking to more traditional fare this fall, as they try to tap every-shrinking advertising dollar.

At Telemesse, Germany’s upfront trade show Aug. 22-23 in Düsseldorf, 40 TV stations unveiled their fall skeds to advertisers.

The underlying message was summed up by RTL topper Gerhard Zeiler: “No experiments for their own sake.”

Advertisers are expected to spend DM14 billion ($6.5 billion) on TV spots this year, but a growing number of broadcasters are competing for a slice.

Given the sluggish economy, most broadcasters will have to keep their price increases below 1%. Only market leader RTL is banking on keeping up with the rate of inflation, asking for average price increases of more than 2%.

RTL is asking for an increase of 7% for its hit, the local format of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” hosted by Günther Jauch. Advertisers have been paying 171,000 Euros ($155,000) for 30-second spots up until now.

“We are especially pleased that we have taken back leadership on Saturday night,” Zeiler said, commenting on the success of the quiz show.

RTL will soon introduce two more quizzers testing general trivia and memory skills.

Meanwhile, the Kirch Group’s station Pro 7 is trying out some new advertising concepts.

Its afternoon talk shows will feature split screens, in which the host will share the screen with a sequence of seven-second spots.

Pro 7 also announced TV premieres for movies “Saving Private Ryan” and “Godzilla.”

Finally, RTL’s little sister RTL II has had to drop its ad rates quite a bit, especially after its “Big Diet” reality show flopped. The station will now confine its reality formats to short runs of three to six episodes.

“Combining real life with games is actually the way to provide for a future for reality shows,” one media buyer told Daily Variety. She pointed to an upcoming RTL show in which celebrities in exotic places have to find their way to other difficult destinations as a likely formula for success.

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