'Babylon Berlin' German Free TV Premiere Peaks With 8.5 Million Viewers

Tom Tykwer
'Babylon Berlin'

Tom Tykwer's German period series, which first aired on Sky and on Netflix worldwide, premiered to a 24.5 percent market share on German public broadcaster ARD on Sunday.

Nearly a year after its premiere on European pay TV network Sky and on Netflix worldwide, epic German period series Babylon Berlin finally debuted for its most important audience: free TV viewers in Germany.

Public broadcaster ARD put up the bulk of the financing for Babylon Berlin, which boasts a $45 million budget for its first two seasons, a record for a non-English language series. In an unprecedented move, ARD allowed the show to air first on Sky and Netflix before its free-TV window. But judging by Sunday night's ratings for the show's free TV premiere, it was worth the wait.

A peak of 8.5 million Germans tuned in to watch the first three episodes of the series, with an average of 7.83 million, for a 24.5 percent market share and the best start for a series in Germany this year.

ARD also scored with younger viewers, a rarity for the aging public network: 21.2 percent of the 14-49 demographic caught the Babylon Berlin debut.

ARD and Sky, together with international sales group Beta Film, have already greenlighted a third season of the show, co-created by directors Tom Tykwer, Henk Handloegten and Achim von Borries.

Babylon Berlin is a crime noir set in 1920s Berlin. Volker Bruch stars as detective Gereon Rath who, together with police secretary Charlotte Ritter (Liv Lisa Fries), investigates the rot at the heart of the city torn by political and social upheaval.