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.