Friday, July 4, 2014

German TV and It's Issues

There was a study of German television networks....over viewer 'happiness' with the various channels offered.  To some degree, it is minor chat over the last day or two of the results.  I suspect the results don't really shock anyone.

What we can generally say is that ARD (Channel One, state-run TV).....has over sixty percent of their viewers who are either extremely dissatisfied or mostly dissatisfied.  In terms of hard-core fans, they barely nudged the three-percent point.  Yeah, it's pretty negative numbers.

For ZDF (Channel Two, state-run TV).....it wasn't much better.  Fifty-five percent were either extremely dissatisfied or mostly dissatisfied.  The big-fan camp?  They were double of ARD, at six-percent.  Yeah.....a whopping six-percent of hard-core fans.

The commercial run networks (SAT, RTL, RTL2, VOX, etc)?  They were all fairly close to fifty percent on the extremely or mostly dissatisfied rate.

The odd point of the survey was ARTE.....that state-run channel that almost no one will admit watching....which does mostly great literary pieces, opera, and artistic stuff.  From the crowd who admitted that they were frequent viewers of ARTE.....less than fourteen percent were extremely or mostly dissatisfied.  Fifty-four percent were on the fairly or extremely happy scale.  They didn't break down the numbers, but I'd take a guess that at best.....only eight Germans out of a hundred will admit watching it at least once a week, and there's probably only one German of a hundred who watches it nightly.

What does all this say about German TV?  Generally....the public isn't that happy or satisfied.  It doesn't matter if we are talking public TV or state-run TV.  Most folks just aren't happy.

Why?

Being an American, I have the privilege of seeing the whole picture and I'll offer my observations.

State-run TV....at least with ZDF and ARD.....meets a hard goal of making people happy with one program that is slanted for only one type of viewer at 8:15PM, and at 9:15PM....a totally different show comes on....which is only appreciated by someone with a taste for murder mystery stories.  At 11:15PM....the next show will be some news show which usually chases away seventy-percent of the viewers.

Trying to be all things for all people.....the state-run TV crowd kinda fails.

State-run TV goes out to buy boxing matches for Saturday night coverage....something that rarely happens with the commercial TV networks.  This is suggest that they are trying hard to attract the boxing crowd....who might not watch them very much.  Formula One racing?  Commercial TV networks try hard to incorporate them into the viewing audience.....to make them happy.

Old-formula shows and formats?  ZDF and ARD cluster themselves around this idea.  What was successful ten and twenty years ago.....will be done over and over with the state-TV crowd.  It doesn't sell well to anyone under the age of twenty-five, but they don't care......they aim for the over forty crowd.

Original programing shows with great scripts?  You won't see something like the Sopranos or Breaking Bad or Amish Mafia on German TV.  Four-star scripts turned into four-star shows just don't occur in Germany.

The most successful show on ARD?  Tatort....a murder-cop-mystery episode every Sunday night.  Half the episodes are marginal in terms of a story or acting.....the other half will continually amaze me with twists, and some fairly dramatic acting that ought to deserve an Oscar.  Because of the up and down trend.....it's probably not helping ARD much in the long run. But Tatort has been around for almost four decades.  No one wants to see the 90-minute episodes halt.

US shows on German TV?  Several of the commercial networks will do this and find some shows that rapidly pick up viewers and is well liked.  Two and a Half-Men makes it in Germany.  Kojak and Dallas both made it successfully in Germany.  Hogan's Heros on the first go-around failed....fifteen years later....it was redone with Bavarian voices and somehow succeeded then.  Baywatch was magnet for viewers in Germany.

All of this brings to this final conclusion....Germans are pretty critical on TV viewing.  If it's crap....they will generally say that.  If some murder mystery was supposed to be all talked about and half-way through the two-hour mystery....it fails in a epic sense....they turn the channel.  During a normal week.....some Germans will still spend two or three hours of their leisure time.....reading a book or playing cards with the guys down at the local pub.

So, the survey doesn't really do much except agree with what Germans have generally said.....sometimes, it's just not worth watching, and it's best to just leave it off occasionally.  That's a habit that some Americans probably cannot comprehend.

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