North Sea feeling on linear television: scene from the »Tatort« episode »Tödliche Flut«
Photo: Christine Schroeder / NDR
Are we all ready for the island?
At least the quota evaluations for primetime on Sunday evening suggest that.
Almost eleven million people watched the »Tatort« episode »Tödliche Flut« from a quarter past eight, in which Wotan Wilke Möhring, as Commissioner Falke, chased over a magically gloomy Norderney.
After all, around five million sunbathed in parallel in the senseless Mediterranean romance "A Summer on Elba".
Flambéed schnapps in the storm-tossed East Frisia, German-Italian teasing in the Mediterranean - these are the little excesses that, thanks to public television, we can treat ourselves with a clear conscience in the Corona isolation.
Television in Germany can be a campfire again: a warming experience that everyone can enjoy at the same time.
With the advent of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and all the other streaming platforms, until recently there was justified concern that linear television would soon be less and less watched.
The US broadcasters and the upgraded ARD and ZDF media libraries made the audience their own program director;
the individual can call up what he wants and when he wants it from an ever-growing, digitally available pool.
But despite these seemingly inexhaustible choices (or perhaps because of them?), There is now a new enthusiasm for the old linear television: 8 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. are evidently stronger than ever time stamps that let the German audience collectively and reflexively reach for remote control.
This is particularly evident in the »Tagesschau«: In the Corona year 2020, the ratings of the ARD news classic rose again significantly.
The program - including the broadcast in the third programs - reached an average of 11.78 million viewers per day last year and, as the broadcasters say, delivered "the highest value since ratings began".
Longing for structure?
On the one hand, this may be due to people's increased need for information during pandemic times - but on the other hand, a longing for structure in everyday life.
Anyone who spends the day in the home office and tries to flexibly manage the new requirements from family organization and work duties may be happy about every bit of time commitment.
Anyone who turns on the »Tagesschau« at 8 p.m. knows that they are part of a large television community.
In spite of the many corona updates that ticker continuously on the Internet: everyone is informed the same way once a day at the same time.
And this longing for ritualization in chaos is also evident in the drastically increased consumption of public law crime novels.
In this respect, the rise of the ARD series “Nord bei Nordwest”, for which Hinnerk Schönemann as an ex-metropolitan cop around the Priwall peninsula on the Baltic Sea, is determined is spectacular.
Over ten million people watched the current episode last Thursday, a success that was not possible with fictional programs beyond the »crime scene« in this country for a long time.
Killer hunt and the screeching of seagulls, that apparently goes down well with the lockdown audience.
More than ten million viewers: Scene from the Baltic Sea crime thriller "Nord bei Nordwest" with Hinnerk Schönemann
Photo: Sandra Hoever / NDR / ARD
But even without a North or Baltic Sea backdrop, television thrillers are currently celebrating one rating record after another.
On the Wednesday before the "Nord bei Nordwest" sensation, Schönemann was seen alongside Mariele Millowitsch in an episode of the ZDF series "Marie Brand" - and gathered 8.8 million people in the linear broadcast in front of the television screens.
In Corona times, the television thriller has become its kind of meaningful collective experience.
As grueling as it is to collect and organize the ever new, often contradictory information about the pandemic, which is pouring in over the Internet and television, it is reassuring that reliable commissioners put the pieces of the puzzle for their respective murder case between 8.15 p.m. and 9.45 p.m. How to combine them into a meaningful whole.
ARD and ZDF now have to do everything in their power to use the newly sparked pleasure in linear television for sophisticated crime stories.
The controversial but also hugely successful Norderney "crime scene" was anything but pure island escapism.
In this case, the crisis is actually an opportunity for the public broadcasters - they can implement difficult material in popular formats.
Quota and quality don't have to be a contradiction in terms.
Icon: The mirror