'Deutschland 83' Debuts to So-So Ratings in Germany

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'Deutschland 83'

The producers say a second season may be in the cards for the Cold War thriller, which aired on Sundance TV in the U.S..

Deutschland 83, the most hyped German TV series since, well, forever, may get a second-season order, despite delivering less-than-bombastic ratings on its German debut. 

Wolf Bauer, head of Deutschland 83 producer UFA, said a second season of the show, to be called Deutschland 86, could been greenlit, even if the series does not deliver mega ratings at home. The Cold War thriller, which focuses on a Stasi spy who infiltrates the West German military, premiered on Sundance TV this summer and has been a critical hit. 

But Deutschland 83 did not completely wow viewers at home when it debuted Nov. 26 on commercial network RTL. The show's overnight ratings were decent, but not outstanding. Deutschland 83 drew 3.19 million viewers for a 9.9 percent overall market share.

Among the key 14-49 demographic, the show's pilot grabbed a 15.7 percent share. That's a decent performance for RTL, slightly above the network's average, but hardly a blow-out success. In comparison, competitor Pro7 took the top spot with singing show The Voice of Germany, which drew a 16 percent share head-to-head with Deutschland 83.

This comes after a blanket marketing effort by RTL, which has plastered the country's bus stops and train stations with Deutschland 83 posters and billboards. Media coverage has been all-encompassing. German critics have been falling over themselves to anoint Deutschland 83 as the ... best ... German ... series ... ever.

Against that backdrop, the overnight figures look less impressive.

RTL aired the first two episodes of Deutschland 83 back-to-back. Episode two lost a bit of its lead-in audience, holding on to 2.86 million viewers, and netting 14.1 percent in the 14-49 year-old demo.

But Deutschland 83's international success — the show has sold wide, including to Hulu, Channel 4 in the U.K. and across Europe — may make domestic ratings less important. Bauer told German trade magazine Blickpunkt Film that UFA and its partners could bankroll a second season in any case. 

Husband and wife creative team Anna and Jorg Winger are currently developing Deutschland 86. The second series would pick up with its hero, Martin Rauch (Jonas Nay) who returns to Germany after years abroad. Jorg Winger told Blickpunkt that around “half the cast” of the first season will return for Deutschland 86.

The Wingers originally conceived of Deutschland as a three-season series, with the final season to be set in 1989 and take the action up to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War. 

Correction: an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that UFA had already greenlit a second season of Deutschland 83

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