Prime-time German TV battle hots up

9th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

20 September 2004, HAMBURG - Television-hungry Germans are being encouraged by two networks to zap back and forth between their rival channels to see which commercial they prefer. It is a gimmick by the two commercial TV networks, Sat1 and Pro-7, to lure viewers away from the prime-time evening news show on public broadcaster ARD. At precisely 12 minutes past 8 pm - just as the pubcaster anchorman segues to the weather forecast - the two commercial networks stage their zapping competition with two versions

20 September 2004

HAMBURG - Television-hungry Germans are being encouraged by two networks to zap back and forth between their rival channels to see which commercial they prefer.

It is a gimmick by the two commercial TV networks, Sat1 and Pro-7, to lure viewers away from the prime-time evening news show on public broadcaster ARD.

At precisely 12 minutes past 8 pm - just as the pubcaster anchorman segues to the weather forecast - the two commercial networks stage their zapping competition with two versions of the same commercial aired simultaneously.

Even as the public broadcaster shows images of low-pressure fronts bringing clouds and showers in from the Low Countries, viewers of Sat1 are shown an "upbeat" commercial for a Renault car done in sunny colours with a cheery narration.

Meanwhile, Pro-7 viewers see a "downbeat" version of the same Renault commercial, filmed in grim grey tones with a sad story line.

Viewers are encouraged during the course of the 120-second-long commercials to zap back and forth between the channels - or better yet, to record them both - and decide which one they prefer.

Then they log-on to an internet website where their preferences are recorded - along with a chance to win one of those new French cars.

The ARD "Tagesschau" news show is generally the highest-rated prime-time show in Germany. So putting a dent in its ratings is a cherished goal among the country's dozen or so commercial networks.

In fact, prime-time does not official start in Germany until the ARD newscast is finished at 8:15 p.m.

An attempt a few years ago by Sat1 to start airing its prime-time line-up at 8 pm ended in an embarrassing fiasco when viewers refused to budge from the time-honoured habit of watching the ARD news from 8 until 8:15. Humiliated, Sat1 had to reschedule its line- up to start at 8:15.

By luring viewers away from ARD at 8:12, Sat1 and Pro-7 hope not only to steal ratings from the ARD flagship news show. They also hope viewers will stay tuned for their own prime-time schedule starting at 8:15.

The gimmick is the brainchild of an award-winning German made-for- TV filmmaker, Detlev Buck, who scripted and produced both versions of the car commercial.

The "upbeat" version of the commercial was filmed on the Riviera. The "downbeat" version was filmed in Warsaw.

DPA

Subject: German news
 

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