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UFA Makes a Killing With Daily Soaps, Crime Dramas

UFA has over the decades made an indelible mark on Germany’s dynamic TV market with its scripted programming, from its hit crime dramas to its long-running daily series.

The company’s UFA Serial Drama unit helped redraw German television over the past 25 years with its daily soaps.

UFA Serial Drama, previously known as GrundyUFA, launched its very first daily soap, “Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten” (Good Times, Bad Times), also known as “GZSZ,” on RTL Television in 1992 and the series remains its most popular show to this day.

“With ‘GZSZ,’ we established the first daily series in the German television market,” says Joachim Kosack, UFA Serial Drama’s co-CEO. “We wrote television history, set trends and have repeatedly provoked discussion. To this day, ‘GZSZ’ captivates millions of viewers and with its outstanding market share of up to 25% in the target group of 14-to-49-year-olds, ‘GZSZ’ is one of the most successful formats on RTL.”

Indeed, the series quickly became a phenomena that led to a daily soap craze on all of Germany’s major broadcasters. UFA Serial Drama followed with RTL’s “Unter uns” and ARD’s “Verbotene Liebe.” Over the years the company has produced a slew of hit daily soaps and telenovelas, including ProSieben’s “Mallorca”; ZDF’s “Bianca – Wege zum Glück”; Sat.1’s “Verliebt in Berlin” – a local adaptation of Colombian format “Yo soy Betty, la fea” (Ugly Betty); ARD’s “Sophie – Braut wider Willen”; and RTL’s “Alles was zählt,” currently the lead-in to “GZSZ.”

UFA Serial Drama’s latest daily shows include RTL II’s “Sterne von Berlin – Die jungen Polizisten,” about a group of rookie cops who live and work together in the German capital, and Nickelodeon’s teen soap “Spotlight,” about the creative kids at the Berlin School of Arts.

Kosack attributes the success of UFA Serial Drama’s series to the company’s “outstanding, passionate teams and a perfect [balance] between consistency and development. The challenge is to keep reinventing stories and characters, to be bold, to go in new directions without losing sight of the brand essence.”

In September RTL II also aired “Call the Boys,” a pilot for a potential new series about four friends who run a call-boy business for female clients.

Kosack says the company continues to work intensively on new, long-running daily series as well as weekly shows for primetime.

UFA Fiction, meanwhile, focuses on feature films and scripted TV fare, including movies, series and miniseries. The unit produces some of German television’s most watched crime procedurals, including “SOKO Leipzig”; “SOKO München”; ZDF’s “Bella Block”; and ARD’s “Donna Leon” (based on the Venice-set crime novels of American author Donna Leon featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti).

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