ProSieben sets pace

Territory report: Germany

BERLIN — The tempestuous waters of Germany’s TV industry are finally calming after Haim Saban’s acquisition of ProSiebenSat.1, the country’s largest TV group.

ProSiebenSat.1 already has a slew of fresh U.S. series and films on the way, thanks to new content deals recently inked with Paramount and Sony.

Packages include upcoming series such as “The Shield,” “The Guardian,” “Navy NCIS,” “Jake 2.0,” “In-Laws,” “Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital” and “Joan of Arcadia” as well as features such as “Vertical Limit,” “Hollow Man,” “Spider-Man,” “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” and “Star Trek: Nemesis.”

CEO Urs Rohner says the agreements complete the group’s supply of high-quality Hollywood productions for the next few years.

In the wake of last year’s 10% drop in Germany’s ad market, ProSiebenSat 1 was forced to slash its programming budget for 2003 by 10% to E1.2 billion ($1.4 billion).

Yet the network has got off to a strong fall start with “Scrubs,” which has replaced ProSieben’s hit series “Sex and the City” on Tuesday nights.

“It’s difficult to find half-hour shows that can do well in the German market but ‘Scrubs’ has been a tremendous success,” says Thomas Schultheis, ProSieben’s head of program scheduling.

Nevertheless, the web is producing two sitcoms this year: “Eighteen,” about students at a boarding school, and “Was nicht passt, wird passen gemacht” (If It Don’t Fit, Use a Bigger Hammer), about zany construction workers.

The L.A. Screenings remains the most important market for ProSieben, although Mipcom provides a valuable selection of entertainment formats, which will be high on the shopping list for Rudiger Boess, ProSiebenSat 1’s head of acquisitions.

Both Sat.1 and ProSieben were quick to follow rival RTL’s “Pop Idol” version “Deutschland sucht den superstar” with their respective hit casting shows: “Star Search” and “Popstars: Das Duell.”

RTL is launching a another “Superstar,” a fifth season of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” and nostalgic skeins such as “The Seventies” and the “DDR Show.”

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