Please wait...
Please wait...
Please wait...


ORF-Enterprise GmbH & Co. KG

Programming Profile

Balancing German-language drama with blue-chip factual at ORF-Enterprise


Armin Luttenberger, head of international content sales at ORF-Enterprise, outlines the business priorities for the Austrian distributor and talks us through some of the trends in the industry and new titles coming down the pipeline.


How is international demand for German-language drama changing?
The past few years have shown a tremendous shift. Whereas ORF-Enterprise has traditionally been known as a supplier of blue-chip factual content, the recent success of dramas from our ORF Originals strand in other language markets proves the audience’s love for German-language drama.


With that in mind, we’re massively expanding our fiction offering. Starting with the recently launched ORF/ARD series Days That Never Were, we will be presenting further drama highlights at the upcoming markets. At Berlinale Series Market last month, we gave a first exclusive insight into the upcoming hit series School of Champions, which will be completed later this year.


Armin Luttenberger,

What have been some of ORF-Enterprise’s best-selling shows in the drama genre?
Our long-running show Soko Kitzbuehel as well as the series Fast Forward and movies from the German/Austrian/Swiss strand Tatort have proved to be successes on linear channels, with fantastic ratings, as well as on non-linear platforms.


You recently unveiled a female-led drama series. What can you tell us about that show?
Days That Never Were is a drama series about four women who have been through thick and thin together ever since their school days at the elite school Sophianum, but secrets and personal struggles threaten to tear them apart.


The tension escalates as Miriam’s marriage falls apart and she’s forced to confront her deepest secrets. Doris is weighed down by her overbearing mother’s hidden past, while Inès tries to find her place in her hometown after years away in Paris. Meanwhile, Christiane is struggling to come to terms with the worst loss a mother can suffer.


As if that’s not enough, a murder case turns their world upside down and their bond is put to the ultimate test. Will they stick together through thick and thin like they did in the old days, or will the investigation tear them apart?


The series was produced in 2022 by MR-Film for ORF, ARD (MDR) and ARD Degeto and has been a success with critics and audiences alike after its initial broadcast.


Days That Never Were

What other dramas do you have in the pipeline for 2023 and beyond?
One of our most notable upcoming dramas is the previously mentioned School of Champions. It takes place at a prestigious Austrian Ski Academy that has churned out world-renowned skiing champions year after year. Ten talented teenagers managed to pass the academy’s grueling admissions process and are ready to make it to the top.


Nikki, the rebellious son of the school’s principal; Nawal, the focused racer from Switzerland; Luca, the introverted skier from South Tyrol; Daniela, the local racing hopeful; and George, the quiet Munich native, all bring their unique talents and personalities to the mix.


They learn that their personal relationships and emotions are just as important as the sport itself. With demanding teachers, ambitious parents and financial insecurity constantly looming, the pressure is on to perform both on and off the slopes. The series is a coproduction by ORF, BR, SRF and Superfilm in association with ORF-Enterprise and is set to release in late 2023.


Furthermore, the charming investigators of Soko Linz will also be seen again, as filming for the third season will start this May.


Clash of the Crown Princes

In the factual space, how is global demand for premium blue-chip docs changing?
Demand for premium blue-chip docs has already changed in recent years. Topics like conservation as well as adaptation in a rapidly changing world have become ubiquitous when it comes to nature and wildlife documentaries.


A look back into history also helps to better understand current developments. With a special focus on female figures in a male-dominated narrative, ORF is fulfilling its responsibility as a public service provider in telling their stories. ORF continues to commit to high-quality factual productions, celebrating 35 years of the Universum Nature strand as well as 10 years of Universum History.


Given the economic situation, how do you think demand for unscripted will change this year?
Collaboration becomes even more relevant in economically challenging times. By presenting the German/Austrian/Swiss partnership that came so natural for the upcoming drama School of Champions, we were proud to present at the Berlinale Series Market how pooling resources for an entertaining TV series, significantly increasing its production value and including the participation of ORF-Enterprise in an early stage, can be a formula for success. We believe that the audience will increasingly look out for original stories, and we are proud that we will be a relevant source bringing ORF Originals to the market.


How is your content catalogue changing, in terms of genres, language and/or suppliers?
As a public broadcaster’s commercial arm, our output is essentially aligned with that of ORF, extended by hand-picked additions from independent producers. I am very pleased that ORF remains committed to promoting original content, even in challenging times, and that we can thus develop our sales footprint, especially in our premium genres of drama and blue-chip factual content. We are committed to remain a one-stop shop for a wide range of genres and continue to develop our catalogue further to include outstanding content with a high production value.


A Raven’s Tale – Mystic Czechia

How has the streaming/FAST boom changed your content strategy?
The increasing number of AVoD platforms and FAST channels offer additional ways for the distribution of our content. We have seen a high demand for special-interest content and library content, as well as for our old favourites and fiction classics. This enables us to not only sell our newest titles and highlights but also to distribute high-quality documentaries or fictional series from our voluminous back catalogue. This additional distribution option requires an even more refined content strategy in order to not interfere with the other TV or VoD sales activities. However, we enjoy creating more business opportunities and reaching more viewers worldwide and on various channels.


Tell us about some recent programme sales that your company has made?
Our drama series and movies catalogue continue to be our strongest asset, perfectly complementing our high-quality factual line-up. The latest sales are led by Soko Kitzbuehel going to Italy (Discovery), French-speaking Europe (Canal+, RTS in Switzerland, RTBF in Belgium) and Spain (Atresmedia, AMC). MHz Networks in the US has also acquired a multi-hour package of movies from ORF’s Backwoods Crimes and critically acclaimed Tatort slates.


On the factual side, recent sales include a major package of Universum Nature wildlife documentaries licensed to RTVE (Spain) and Universum History packages to RTV (Slovakia) and CT (Czech Republic).


These sales are proof of the value and quality of ORF’s original productions and blue-chip documentaries. Our team is looking forward to representing a fresh line-up including exciting news around our offering at MipTV 2023.

More programming profiles

  • 25-03-2022

    Gernot Lercher from Austrian public broadcaster ORF and Armin Luttenberger of its commercial arm ORF-Enterprise discuss the changing market for natural history content, new sources of production finance and the new titles on the company’s C21 Digital Screenings playlist this week.


    With its internationally respected natural history strand Universum now entering its 35th year on-air, Austrian public broadcaster ORF has changed the way the world sees wildlife documentaries. The strand has since expanded into other factual genres, such as history, but nevertheless has natural history at its core.


    This long relationship with the blue-chip wildlife documentary industry puts ORF in a unique position to discuss the changing market for this genre of programming. It’s a market that Gernot Lercher, head of ORF Universum/Natural History, says is very buoyant, given the growing international interest in ecological issues.