'The Masked Singer' Draws Record Ratings for Germany's ProSieben

Boris Breuer/Prosieben
'The Masked Singer'

The finale of the costume-heavy competition, adapted from the South Korean original, drew a 38 percent market share, and 9 million viewers, and the show also boosted ProSiebenSat.1's revenue.

Germany really, really loves The Masked Singer.

The costumed celebrity singing competition show, adapted from the South Korean original format, is a runaway hit in Germany on commercial network ProSieben. A total of 9 million viewers, a 38.1 percent share of the audience, watched the finale of The Masked Singer's first season. That's the best primetime rating for a ProSieben show since 2010.

The Masked Singer was a surprise hit for Fox in the U.S., the first major territory to adapt the Korean format, where VIPs perform covers of hit pop songs, their identities concealed behind elaborate and outlandish costumes. Fox has already ordered two more seasons of The Masked Singer — season 2 will launch this fall, season 3 on Feb. 2, 2020, right after Super Bowl LIV. ITV has ordered a British version of the show to bow next year.

For ProSiebenSat.1, the parent company of German network ProSieben, The Masked Singer is also proof that its strategic shift away from imported U.S. series and towards more locally produced content is paying off.

ProSiebenSat.1's German channels posted their best second-quarter performance in four years with a total market share of 28.4 percent of the target 14-49 demographic, representing a 1.2 percent jump over the second quarter of 2018. In-house produced shows, including The Masked Singer, were the main driver behind the increase.

Local content has also proved popular with digital audiences, with digital viewing, including on the company's recently launched streaming platform Joyn, up 26 percent in the second quarter. Joyn, which ProSiebenSat.1 operates together with Discovery Inc., claims 3.8 million monthly total active users across all devices and over 2.4 million installed apps. The service offers live streams from more than 50 German TV channels as well as on-demand viewing of series, shows and previews.

All of this made for an upbeat presentation Wednesday, when ProSiebenSat.1 announced its quarterly figures, reporting a 4 percent increase in revenue to $1.06 billion (947 million euros). Revenue at production division Red Arrow Studios was up 28 percent, and ProSiebenSat.1 saw a 26 percent jump in digital and smart advertising business revenue, results that the company said “more than compensated” for a 3 percent drop in revenue at its core TV advertising business.

Adjusted operating profits (EBITDA), however, were down a sharp 18 percent to $238.6 million (213 million euros), a drop predicted by the company and attributed to ProSieben's lower ad revenue and its increased investment in local content and its digital business.

“We are making good progress in the transformation of ProSiebenSat.1 and are delivering what we have announced,” said CEO Max Conze. “We continue to focus single-mindedly on the execution of our strategy and are reaching important milestones.... We are convinced this will pay off and we are on the right track focusing on local and digital.”

For the full year, ProSiebenSat.1 is forecasting a mid-single-digit percentage jump in revenue and a decline in adjusted EBITDA of between 22 and 25 percent.

Mediaset, the company controlled by the family of Silvio Berlusconi, recently acquired a minority stake in ProSiebenSat.1, and the Italian firm is believed to be interested in boosting its interest in the German channel group.