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C21 DIGITAL SCREENINGS

Bavaria Media International

Programming Profile

Bavaria’s playlist for the global market

09-10-2020

Carlos Hertel of Bavaria Media discusses the German company’s C21 Digital Screenings playlist and explains why local content is thriving internationally.

 

German drama “is in constant and increasing demand,” say Carlos Hertel, director of international sales at Munich-based Bavaria Media International, who credits the boom to a vibrant local industry and big global platforms investing heavily in original German content.

 

“We have a very vivid, closely connected creative community that works together,” Hertel adds, pointing to a combined effort between commissioning and financing that he says is “shaping the future output of content.”

 

Hertel has been responsible for international distribution at Bavaria Media International, the rights trading subsidiary of the Bavaria Film Group, since 2017, representing a catalogue of more than 20,000 hours of programming across multiple genres.

 

Hertel
Carlos Hertel,
Bavaria Media International

The first title on Bavaria’s C21 Digital Screenings playlist, Storm of Love, is evidence of the continued success of German content on the international market. The telenovela, which has been on air since 2005 and has amassed 16 seasons, has been picked up in more than 20 countries. Telling the love story of a different couple in each season has proved a winning formula. “It is one of the most successful telenovelas ever,” says Hertel.

 

The telenovela genre is back in vogue, having seen a decline in the 2000s, with the genre doing particularly well in Turkey and Latin America and new shows being made. Hertel points to changes in viewing habits as a reason for the genre’s renewed appeal. “The success of OTT and binge-viewing, and the need for content and volume, has made telenovelas more interesting for more platforms and broadcasters,” he says.

 

Storm of Love, produced in-house by Bavaria Fiction for German public broadcaster Das Erste, has also successfully made the transition from linear. “It has been viewed over 56 million times online in the first six months of 2020. This makes it the most successful streaming format among German TV shows,” says Hertel, adding that this is proof the show has evolved to meet the needs of contemporary audiences.

 

Storm of Love
Storm of Love

Also aiding the resurgence in telenovelas are the testing times in which we currently find ourselves, according to Hertel. “The more uncertain the present, the more important it becomes to have certain anchor points – and from a sociological point of view, this provides stability for the audience,” he says.

 

Another in-house title to make the playlist is Dr Dog (4×90’), a telemovie series that follows an innovative psychologist and his canine assistant as they take on the tough cases even the patient has given up on. Production is currently underway on two new instalments.

 

For Hertel, the psychological elements of the series make it another timely choice. “The psychological effect of the pandemic has not yet been addressed properly,” he says. The show also comes at a time when there has been an increased appetite for programming touching on mental health issues. “It caters towards people wanting to be heard and wanting to address a phenomenon that has been neglected in the past,” Hertel adds.

 

Toni, the Midwife
Toni, the Midwife

The exec’s next playlist choice also reflects societal changes. Toni, the Midwife (4×90′) centres on a man who works in the titular profession traditionally associated with women. Again produced by Bavaria Fiction, a further two episodes of the show are in production. “Toni, the Midwife is a humorous way of conveying the change of traditional role models,” says Hertel.

 

Next up is Einstein High, a teenage soap opera produced by Saxonia Media for ARD. It follows a group of pupils as they navigate teenage life while away at boarding school.

 

Now streaming on Netflix Germany, the long-running series has totted up 947 episodes over 23 seasons, with more in production. Hertel puts its success down to the show moving with the times. “The producers and showrunners have been able to feel the pulse of the audience over such a long period of time. Especially in the target group, this is a very rare phenomenon in our fast-moving times,” he says.

 

Freedom to Kill
Freedom to Kill

Zoo Doctor Mertens (78×60’), meanwhile, takes the next playlist spot. Another Saxonia Media title, the drama follows a zoo doctor who devotes herself to her turbulent work and family life. One of Bavaria’s top sellers internationally, the show’s success is down to its unique format, says Hertel. “There are not many shows that come close to animals in an entertaining way,” he says.

 

The next playlist title is Aenne Burda, “a great story about female emancipation,” according to Hertel. The 2×90’ programme, made by Polyphon Pictures for SWR, tells the true story of the eponymous German publishing icon, who launched a style magazine containing fashion patterns, trends and textile tips with the aim of bringing elegance back to the fore after the ravages of the Second World War. “Most of the buyers know Burda because they tell me their mothers and grandmothers used to subscribe to the magazine,” says Hertel.

 

Bavaria’s next two titles are also from SWR Productions. Freedom to Kill (1×90’) is a TV movie thriller that follows the trail of German arms sales into Central America. It stars Katharina Wackernagel, who also plays the title role in Aenne Burda.

 

Imagining Murder
Imagining Murder

Crimescapes (13×90’), meanwhile, is a spin-off from the German crime show Tatort, which Hertel calls “the most iconic brand in German television drama,” describing it as the mother of all CSIs as it celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Like other titles in the playlist, Crimescapes demonstrates how “longevity is a recurring motive in our shows,” says Hertel.

 

Staying with crime for the next choice, Imagining Murder (15×90’) is another police procedural. Commissioned by WDR, it centres on a psychologically unstable chief inspector. For Hertel, the protagonist is part of the show’s winning formula. “The success of the show derives from the juxtaposition of a guy who not always behaves according to the book, but whose genius always allows him to solve his cases,” he says.

 

Bavaria’s next title, Merkel – Anatomy of a Crisis (1×120’) is another timely and relevant piece. The political drama focuses on the defining moment of Angela Merkel’s chancellorship, the refugee crisis of 2015, which became Germany’s greatest upheaval since its reunification and led to Merkel’s monumental decision to keep the country’s borders open.

 

Merkel – Anatomy of a Crisis
Merkel – Anatomy of a Crisis

“It very brilliantly focuses on one of the most prominent and complex phenomena of our time: migration. And while Covid-19 dominates the headlines, migration is next to climate change as the ultimate challenge of our days. This is why this movie is so important and so relevant,” says Hertel.

 

The exec’s next choice, Manaslu (1×100’ or 2×52’) is “a fantastically visually gripping documentary about Manaslu, a mountain in Nepal.” Produced by Planet Watch Film, the show follows world famous mountaineer Hans Kammerlander’s quest to conquer the peak. “It’s about surpassing obstacles, challenges, natural frontiers. It tells the archaic story of man against nature,” Hertel adds.

 

Bavaria’s final playlist choice is Think!, “a competitive quizshow that is more than pure entertainment,” says Hertel. Created in-house by Bavaria Entertainment, the one-hour format celebrates the correct usage, comprehension and humour of language and has amassed over 3,000 episodes in more than 10 years.

 

Think!
Think!

“It is one of the few shows that can be produced at this time because it is cost-effective, scalable in length and very easy to produce. It doesn’t need any real audience because the candidates are playing one-on-one against the host, so this has seen a lot of demand in Covid times,” says Hertel.

 

Hertel remains positive that local content will continue to find international success. “I’m very optimistic about the future of German shows. The secret of success lies in sound competition and collaboration,” he adds, referring to the global streamers, local German SVoDs and traditional broadcasters.

 

“Creativity is still an exchange of ideas and will remain one of the most important factors, ultimately determining the success of the industry.”



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