Jittery nets face fickle viewers

Germany

BERLIN — As always, local TV buyers in Germany are keen to find the next big thing, but reactions of German audiences remain hard to predict.

“House” has become RTL Television’s top-rated show, surpassing even “CSI: Miami” in recent months and regularly placing among the top three most-watched series on German TV.

At RTL II, however, the much-publicized “Rome” proved out of place on the youth-oriented web, which sought to beef up its Sunday night slot with back-to-back double episodes. Despite a strong start in July, the series’ audience dropped more than 50% over the summer.

On rival ProSieben, programmers have been eager to transform Monday nights into a showcase of eerie tales, but the slot appears to be cursed.

This summer, the web launched “Jericho” and “Blade” as well as the third season of “The 4400,” but auds shriveled despite a major marketing push. In August, ProSieben replaced “4400” with back-to-back episodes of “The Simpsons,” following the huge success of “The Simpsons Movie” at the German box office. It also swapped “Jericho” and “Blade” for locally produced entertainment fare, including the popular fairy-tale comedy show “Maerchenstunde,” at least through October.

Still set on its “Mystery Monday” concept, ProSieben will launch “Supernatural” and the third season of “Lost” this fall. But the pressure for immediate ratings results is high, and local programmers are under increasing pressure to replace series in midstride if they are not working.

ProSieben’s sister channel Kabel Eins hopes it will have better luck with its fright-night Friday. In September, the web premiered all new episodes of “Ghost Whisperer” and “Medium.”

Group affiliate Sat1, meanwhile, looks likely to get a major revamp after suffering a ratings nosedive this year. While “Navy CIS” continues to attract sizable auds, other U.S. skeins, such as “Without a Trace” and “Numbers,” continue to deliver disappointing numbers.

In lieu of strong scripted fare, local programmers are turning to reality formats. Sat1 is pulling the plug on its local “Ugly Betty” skein “Verliebt in Berlin” (That’s Life) this fall and will instead launch a new daily docu-soap in the access prime slot: “Verdammt lange her — Der Wiedersehen,” which reunites old friends who have not seen one another in years.

TOP 3

1. In aller Freundschaft (ARD)

2. Der letzte Zeuge (ZDF)

3. House (RTL)

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