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10 Entertaining Facts about German TV

facts about german tvGerman TV has a long, eventful history that includes one World War, two German countries after WWII and the German Re-Unification.

Here are 10 interesting facts that help you navigate the German TV landscape:

  1. Did you know we are not too far away from the 100-year anniversary of German TV broadcasting? The first regular TV program was live broadcasted by the Paul Nipkow channel in Berlin on March 22, 1933.
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  3. Today approx. 95% of German households have at least one TV. Therefore TV is a key media outlet.
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  5. Currently, there are 145 TV stations, including three major public stations (ARD, ZDF and Das Dritte) and a large number of commercial stations (the leading ones are: RTL, SAT and ProSieben).
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  7. All Germans who have a radio and/or TV set in their household have to pay a monthly fee of 17,98 € called GEZ or more recently called ‘Contribution Service’ for the public TV and radio stations because they are mostly ad-free. Germans still consider the GEZ a TV compulsory tax.
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  9. International movies and TV shows are very popular. However, every movie, soap, documentary and TV show etc. that you watch in Germany is dubbed / synchronized into German. It’s quite an experience to watch an American movie such as Fringe and hear John Noble or Anna Torv with a voice from a German dubbing actor. The biggest shock came, when I watched Men in Black I again here in the US, and Will Smith’s voice was quite different to what I had been used to!
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  11. The biggest difference between German and American TV is that violence is THE issue, NOT nudity. Therefore German movie ratings are based on the level of violence. Honestly, to me this makes more sense!
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  13. The best German TV series of all times are currently: Derrick, Im Angesicht des Verbrechens, Berlin, Berlin, Stromberg, Danni Lowinski, Tatort, Raumschiff Orion, Anna, Pumuckl and surprisingly Tagesschau. The most popular international shows are: Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Dr. House and The Muppets.
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  15. On average, Germans watch TV for about 242 minutes (about 4 hours) daily. Elderly and unemployed people have a slightly higher usage than the younger and working. This makes watching TV also to the most popular spare time ‘activity’ according to a survey from Freizeitmonitor.
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  17. What do Germans like to watch? Like the USA, men like watching sports and women romantic movies. Young folks prefer Hollywood movies, whereas elderly like news programs and soaps such as “Anne Will”. However, when it comes to the top 10 German programs to watch, here you go.
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  19. German TV commercials are around since 1956. Back then, only ½ an hour a day was filled with them. Nowadays they run every 20 minutes. Each commercial can run up to 30 seconds. Even though comparative advertising is allowed in Germany, it’s still pretty much a taboo since German viewers react negatively to it.

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