Mr. Bartel, did you open a bottle of champagne when the Saturday 1 “Club der Gute Mood” attack on “Kampf der Realitystars” was repelled effortlessly?
Well, I didn’t get a sip, but if he celebrates production and editing, it’s absolutely right. Not out of malicious joy toward the rival, but out of joy that he has succeeded in business again. With this third season, we’ve created an in-house developed answer with Banijay Productions in the currently bloated reality format market and fend off the Sat 1 attack in a genre that’s so important to us. We’re also reacting to more intense competition elsewhere: When we started “Love Island,” there was little in the courtship and flirtation offerings apart from the “Bachelor” franchise. That has changed. We don’t want to unnecessarily fuel inflation, because even ardent fans of the genre are now reaching their limits. So, in coordination with ITV Studios Germany, we return for one season a year for Love Island.
If more and more broadcasters and platforms discover reality TV for themselves, you can see your assertion, but what conclusions do you draw from this at RTLzwei?
We still consider ourselves the home of reality. Our formats in particular work very well not only in linear but also digitally. But I don’t see any reality jokes or celebrities in the pool, I expect a consolidation in the coming years. That is why we stand up for what we have achieved. We undoubtedly have the expertise and creativity for this. At the same time, we at RTLzwei are also taking a new direction beyond what is connected with reality.
And what does that mean?
There are still TV entertainment brands that appeal to the whole family across generations — docu-soaps like “Die Wollnys” or “Die Geissens,” for example. This should also be a hit as a show: That’s why we’re bringing snowshoes back to TV with “Skate Fever.” Jam skateboarding – a mixture of acrobatics and dance – has been popular on Instagram and TikTok for a long time. Parents probably went to a skate disco when they were young. We turn it into a great TV entertainment. Imagine “Let’s Dance” on skates. We are currently in the process of selecting coaches and a jury. Lula Webert will direct Skate Fever – Stars on Roller Skates.
So maybe this is the biggest studio show RTLzwei has ever made?
That could be fine. There will be different shows, and in the end we will have a winning couple. The show is produced by Tresor TV. This is the classic entertainment that our new Head of Entertainment, Thomas Fisher has consciously committed to. Skate Fever isn’t the only show. We are excited about the addition to the RTLzwei family and welcome Hugo Egon Balder, Hella von Senen, Wigald Boning and their guests: Starting in 2023, “Genial daneben” will be in our home, prime time of course. So we have comedy on the show again.
This comes as a surprise. But I prefer the studio offers more than the supermarket offer on RTLzwei…
I’m disappointed, we’ve produced a “supermarket test” specifically for the DWDL (laughs). For the convenience of you and us, we are launching several other shows – new and familiar at the same time: in addition to “Genial daneben” we will revive “Wheel of Fortune” with Sonya Kraus and Thomas Hermanns as great coordinators. And we’re doing eight more new episodes of “The X Factor” after two last year. By the way, the show isn’t just about amazing events, it’s also one: Until last year’s two new episodes, there were only 40 episodes of the American original that we’ve shown over and over again. Fans loved it anyway. But now we are introducing new stories, again presented by Jonathan Frakes and produced by Weidmann and Berg. It is all our contribution to the reactionary wave.
Quick question about reality formats: Last year I inherited “Adam sucht Eva” from RTL. Will this continue?
This is the plan. The last time we were in a quiet corner of Greece because of Corona. When it comes to location for next season, you can choose more freely again. We’re in talks with Warner and I assume we’ll continue Adam as Eva.
RTLzwei keyword family: Now the Geissens girls are on air with their very own docu-soap. Would this be a privilege?
(laughs) Well, as far as I know, Robert and Carmen don’t have any other kids, but that doesn’t stop us from doing more with them. They will experience our most stark luxury real estate in a new form. I think they have a certain level of competence and at the same time are ruthless in their judgments. We’re still having a lot of fun with the Geissens after 17 seasons and they’ve been very successful recently again. “Davina & Shania – We love Monaco” also went well, as did “Die Wollnys” and “Daniela Katzenberger.” I’m looking forward to more “family happiness in Mallorca” with Daniela and Lucas starting on Wednesday. Then, as has already been announced, Kellys will come to RTLzwei with the family reunion in two extraordinary documentaries that provide very intimate insights. And do not forget “Narumol and Joseph – our story continues!”. Both – almost without exaggeration – shine the spotlight on German reality. Families who love people are at RTLzwei.
But the Ochsenknechts prefer to do it with Sky …
Fame is useful, but something else is important to us: the stories and the lives we want to tell – preferably over a long period of time. Our viewers need to be able to find themselves out there with their own experiences and feelings. With all due respect to the Ochsenknechts: I am not sure if they would suit us in this respect.
when Does Al Kelly start? It was announced last year.
The Pan Americana flight aboard Kelly’s won’t come until 2023, because of course filming will take some time. But the family reunion will still be here this year – in the new TV season.
TV season. Contemporary or a relic of the old days?
Good question, of course Screenforce days are a good and important opportunity to provide an update once a year, but the distinction between season and summer vacation no longer exists. There is no longer enough room to breathe between June and August. In fact, it’s always in season.
I’ve mentioned RTLzwei’s digital success before. You are reporting that year after year. And each time the crucial question is: Can it now also be adequately monetized?
Still not as much as a linear advertising business, but with dynamic growth. This shift in usage away from linearity is of course very important to us, given our still relatively young software, and therefore the scalability and reporting of digital reach. We need standards here so that we can take advantage of the opportunities that arise. Because we are on the right track with our offerings on social media, but also with RTL+. Or to be very specific: RTLzwei is regularly represented by three or four formats in the top 10 BVoD content of all specials. Overall, we are right behind RTL and ahead of ProSieben and other private broadcasting stations. In April, we were #1 on GNTM with the song “Battle of the Reality Stars”. “Berlin – Day & Night” and “Cologne 50667” are the most daily broadcast special series according to GZSZ.
Keyword Series: We Now has been critically acclaimed, but it’s almost bizarre on the show as the only prime-time fantasy mini-series. Do you want to continue investing here?
We decide according to the situation. For us, German fiction is not a strategic color of the program, which I say with some regret. We are very proud of “We Are Now”. We also get shows from time to time because the series has caught the attention of young filmmakers. This definitely had a signal effect. We’d be happy to take a look at it and never say never, but we won’t be the dispatcher for the regular commissioning of German series. It’s the same for other broadcasters now.
The RTLzwei Doku Lab was intended to be remembered as a focal point for a literary genre. what happened to her?
In our first Doku lab, we found a total of three materials that we now want to perceive. We are very pleased that thanks to the tireless work of Editor-in-Chief Constanze Beyer we now have a good reputation in this genre – also among producers and authors, which is reflected in the large number of submissions. We want to continue this and build on the success of last year’s “Germany’s Lost Children” evening. Doku Lab will continue next year. And we are making a documentary, possibly a documentary series, about 21-year-old German racing driver Sophia Florsch, who has set herself the goal of becoming the first female Formula 1 driver. Despite her young age, she has already led an eventful life with a bad crash. Others would have stopped then, but she wants to stick to her goal. We will accompany this profession and acquire true connoisseurs of high-end documentaries. It will be produced by the Betz brothers for us – in collaboration with RTL + and Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg.
Do you stick to social reports?
Social Reports is still a stable bank for us, but we’re also looking for lighter formats in the Reality segment. “Die Retourenjäger” with Panagiota Petridou was a huge success and the second season will begin. Then we discovered a great format in the Netherlands: in “We Clean! 65,000 of My Stuff,” run by Colin Ulmen Fernandez, all her belongings are scattered in a hangar, which gives a very nice picture. Then the battle begins: How much do you really need? We want more realistic entertainment again. RTLzwei had great success there with “Zuhaus im Glück”, “Die Kochprofis” and “Trödeltrupp”. We lost something recently.
A year ago at Screenforce Days 2021, a daytime coordination with Jana-Ina Zarrella was one of the highlights introduced. This did not work then. What role does daylight play in a competition against broadcasting, where there is no such thing as daylight but everything is Lighthouse programming?
You cannot be successful as a broadcaster without a good day and Access Prime. So we are developing a few things for these time periods. In fact, “Let’s Love” unfortunately did not work. But we are developing on a larger scale and still trying things out. “Drive Sing” can be one of the highlights of a very funny show. Here we adapt an idea of a format from South Korea, where musicians drive to a counter through a car to select a song and then sing it behind the wheel. Instead of a McDonald’s employee, the jury sits at the next table and does the assessment. It’s a really weird and fun shape. Then we come to the topic of real estate. So we will not leave the light of day behind.
Mr. Bartle, thank you very much for the interview.