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German TV offers mixed bag

German TV 2012

Germany’s TV landscape is divided between pubcasters ARD and ZDF and commercial players RTL and ProSieben and Sat.1. While the pubcasters focus on older-skewing, locally produced series and movies, the commercial broadcasters offer a mix of homegrown scripted shows and licensed U.S. series.


RTL remained the most watched channel last year, increasing its market share from 13.6% to 14.1% among total viewers and a whopping 18.4% among the key 14-49 demo, far outdistancing the competition. The broadcaster — the flagship of RTL Group’s German family of channels that includes Vox, RTL II, Super RTL and newsie N-TV — has solidified its top position with hit U.S. and German series, including “CSI: Miami,” “House,” Autobahn cop skein “Alarm for Cobra 11” and daily soap “Good Times, Bad Times,” as well as hugely popular local versions of formats including “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here,” “Farmer Wants a Wife,” “Idols” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

ARD lost ground last year as its market share slipped from 13.2% to 12.4% among total viewers (6.6% among viewers age 14-49). Contributing to the loss of viewers was a lack of major sports events such as the Olympics and high profile soccer tournaments. Yet the pubcaster continues to attract sizeable auds with weekly series such as its long-running crime drama “Tatort,” “Um himmels willen,” about a group of nuns living in a convent in Bavaria, and medical skein “In aller freundschaft.”

ZDF was likewise hit by a dearth of major sports events, which it usually shares with ARD: the pubcaster’s share in 2011 slipped from 12.7% to 12.1% among total viewers and reached 6.2% among 14-49-aged viewers. Yet ZDF continues to score with popular crime drama and mystery movie series such as “The Inspector and the Sea,” “Katie Fforde,” “Inga Lindstroem,” “Bella Block,” the hit “Love Boat”-like cruise ship skein “Das Traumschiff,” and regular weekly series including “Die Rosenheim-Cops,” “SOKO Leipzig” and “Der bergdoktor.”

Sat.1 skews younger with hit U.S. shows “NCIS,” “The Mentalist” and “Hawaii Five-0,” which make up its popular Sunday night lineup. The web has also scored with inhouse productions like legal-eagle skein “Danni Lowinski” and cop show “Der letzte bulle” (The Last Cop) as well as entertainment formats like “The Voice of Germany.” Sat.1’s share remained nearly unchanged in 2011, rising from 10.1% to 10.2% among total viewers and reaching 10.6% among the key demo.

ProSieben, like Sat.1, part of the ProSiebenSat.1 group that includes Kabel Eins and Sixx, offers the most U.S. shows of the bunch with its aim squarely on the young demo. In addition to local programming like talent show “The Voice of Germany” (which it shares with Sat.1), ProSieben’s top series and sitcoms include “Supernatural,” “Grey’s Anatomy” “Desperate Housewives,” “Private Practice,” “Two and a Half Men,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “How I Meet Your Mother,” “The Simpsons” and most recently “Terra Nova,” which premiered to excellent ratings in February. ProSieben’s 2011 share fell among total viewers by 0.1% to 6.2% but it increased its 14-49 share by the same amount to 11.7%.

Vox led among the smaller webs, including Kabel Eins and RTL II, all of which remained below the 10% mark in the 14-49 demo. Also a prime outlet for U.S. series, Vox offers such hit shows as “The Closer,” “Lie to Me,” “CSI” and “CSI: NY,” “Leverage,” “Criminal Intent” and “Boston Legal.”

Kabel Eins shows a combination of new and classic shows, including “Castle,” “Justified,” “Criminal Minds,” “Cold Case” and “Without a Trace.”

The main outlet for lovers of sci-fi and fantasy fare, RTL II premiered “Game of Thrones” in March. It joins skeins including “True Blood,” “Torchwood,” “Warehouse 13,” “The Event,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Dexter,” “The Listener,” “Smallville” and “Stargate Atlantis.”

Teuton giant spins web online | Dipping into the past | German TV offers mixed bag

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