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Extinct?

Ralf Blasius, ce for science and natural history, ZDF Enterprises (Mainz)
August 1, 2006

Ralf Blasius, CE for science and natural history, ZDF Enterprises (Mainz)
For the last three years, we’ve had a natural history strand in the afternoon called ‘Wonderful World.’ It experienced a slight drop in ratings, but this could have been related to the large amount of films we have shown in it. [The subjects become] less sensational when you can watch them on a daily basis. We started with a 10% to 13% market share, and after three years we only had 8% to 11%.

The idea came up to do something about German zoos, so in March we started testing with a ‘zoo docusoap’ format about zookeepers, their problems, and the animals. This was very successful, so we changed the strand. I would not say that we cut a strand – we still have animals on it.

The ratings of the zoo soap are between 11% and 18% market share – more successful than the docs have ever been. I think this demonstrates that you sometimes have to change to keep attracting the audience. From the demographics perspective, it is mainly a similar audience.

Muriel Rosé, director of documentaries, France 3 (Paris)
For the moment, we have given up developing wildlife and discovery documentaries. ‘Explore,’ the slot reserved for them on Sundays at 6 p.m., had only an average audience – in spite of quality programs – of 11% (or 1.5 million viewers), when the expected audience was 15% (or 2.1 million). We have programs in production and will broadcast them during the summer or school holidays.

About The Author
Andrew Tracy joined Realscreen as associate editor in 2021, following 17 years as managing editor of the award-winning international film magazine Cinema Scope. From 2010 to 2020 he also held the position of senior editor at the Toronto International Film Festival, where he oversaw the flagship publication for the organization’s year-round Cinematheque programming and edited its first original monograph in a decade, Steve Gravestock’s A History of Icelandic Film. He was a scriptwriter and consultant on the first season of the Vice TV series The Vice Guide to Film, and his writing and reporting have been featured in such outlets as Cinema Scope, Reverse Shot, Sight & Sound, Cineaste, Film Comment, MUBI Notebook, POV, and Montage.

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