'Babylon Berlin' Sets Ratings Record for Germany's Sky

Tom Tykwer
'Babylon Berlin'

The 1920s period crime drama will air on Sky U.K. later this year and on Netflix in the U.S. in early 2018.

Babylon Berlin, a big-budget 1920s crime series co-directed by Run Lola Run's Tom Tykwer, is a hit in Germany.

Sky Deutschland, which is part of pan-European pay TV giant Sky and premiered the series in Germany last week, says 1.19 million people watched the show's first episode, a record for the network.

Just under half of those caught the show on Sky's linear network, with the rest watching on catch-up or on-demand services. The figure marks the best-ever start for a new series on Sky. The company, Germany's largest pay TV player, has around 5 million subscribers.

The series, budgeted at $45 million for the first two eight-episode seasons, is set in Berlin in 1929, when the world’s most modern and progressive society is threatened by rising right-wing extremism and a world economy teetering on the brink. It stars a who's who of young German acting talent, including Volker Bruch, Liv Lisa Fries, Leonie Benesch and Lars Eidinger. Tykwer co-wrote and co-directed Babylon Berlin with Achim von Borries and Henk Handloegten.

In a first for German television, the show was co-financed and co-produced by Tykwer's Berlin production shingle X Filme Creative Pool together with Sky, German public broadcaster ARD and Beta Film, which is selling international rights.

Sky will screen both seasons of Babylon Berlin back-to-back, two episodes a night, every Friday in Germany. Sister networks Sky U.K. and Sky Italia will air the series later this year. Netflix has picked up North America rights to Babylon Berlin and will bow the show early next year.