Timeless flickering: that's why TV repeats work

© WavebreakmediaMicro - Fotolia.com
© WavebreakmediaMicro – Fotolia.com

From “crime scene” to “dirty dancing”: you can’t get enough of some older films and series. Will there be more repeats on TV in the future?


No new thrillers, but “crime scene” episodes from the past 20 years, the first one is currently broadcasting on Sunday evenings. An audience of millions still tunes in. The private broadcaster Vox recently showed several old “James Bond” films – the ratings were higher than for many other programs at the same time.

Classic films trigger something. The famous dance-lifting scene from the film “Dirty Dancing”, for example, has been imitated by many couples in real life – at the wedding or in the swimming pool. Some record it on video and then even post it on the Internet. It usually doesn’t look as graceful as it did with Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray from 1987. TV stations also repeatedly incorporate this classic film into their program – Vox, for example, shows it in August. The Netflix streaming service claims that “dirty dancing” is one of the popular classics.

Classics are everywhere

In general, the classics. They are everywhere: Since March, Bavarian Radio has had the old episodes of the “Pumuckl” children’s series back on the program. The Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk broadcast the end of June for the eleventh time since the beginning of the MDR broadcast in 1992 (at 8.15 pm each time) the GDR classic “Der Baulöwe”.

Repetitions are not only known from the summer, when many Germans go on vacation and because of the good weather, people don’t watch TV as much. Around Christmas and the end of the year there are catchy tunes like “Last Christmas” from “Wham!” Every year on the radio. Pendants on television: the fairy tale film “Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella” – the first one has shown it 33 times in the past 14 years – or the short comedy “Dinner for One”. The “Sissi” series with Romy Schneider did not even appear in this text – but now.

Why do we always sit in front of the TV, use streaming platforms or media libraries to watch such classics? “Nostalgia effect” – that is how television scientist Joan Bleicher from the University of Hamburg sums it up. “The same feelings can be rediscovered with each new view of the old film. At the same time, memories of your own life come back to you when you first saw the film or TV series. Spectators visit their “family” in the familiar stories. “

A film or series has to bring a lot to become a classic: “In general, they have to stand out from the uniformity of other media offerings,” says Bleicher, listing: such as special narrative styles, dramaturgies, dialogues, special characters or outstanding acting. “Of course, fans are also responsible for the cult status, who declare a film or series to be a cult and promote its use.”

Own channels for cinema classics

The pay-TV company Sky even has its own broadcaster for classic films. Program director Elke Walthelm explains the success of a film: “If the story, the staging, the performance of the actors and the first success of the production are right, then there is a good chance that the film or series will still inspire the viewer or one later ever larger fan community will win. Popular film or series classics often embody a very specific zeitgeist of a bygone era, which you as a viewer are always happy to immerse yourself in. ”Sky film favorites: For example,“ The Lord of the Rings ”and“ Die Slowly ”.

The head of the ZDF main editorial office for program planning, Florian Kumb, says about TV reruns: “As usual, the number of reruns in summer, at a time when fewer people watch TV, is higher than in the rest of the year.” Especially this time transmitters also had to change direction somewhat. The reason? Sure, Corona. Sports events fell flat and broadcast slots had to be filled elsewhere. Kumb emphasizes: “Despite the postponement of the European Football Championship and the Olympic Games, ZDF has an attractive program this summer with a mixture of new documentaries, entertainment formats, film premieres and a selection of repetitions.”

Kumb also makes it clear: “Repetitions are inexpensive.” However, he makes this weak point: “Their use has limits: A fresh program is essential in the journalistic competition. Otherwise, high numbers of viewers cannot be achieved in the long run. ”The series“ Raumschiff Enterprise ”and“ Die Rosenheim-Cops ”are among the most frequently broadcast series in the ZDF family of channels. In the children’s program, it is “dandelion”.

More Corona Repeats?

When asked whether there are currently more repetitions than usual due to corona, the media group ProSiebenSat.1 replies: “Actually no. We even have more fresh programs. ”The group also does not assume that repetitions will play a greater role on TV in the long term. Kumb from ZDF comments in a similar way: “Since filming has now started again after the Corona compulsory break, I am confident that we will be able to show significantly more new programs from autumn.”

The media group RTL says: For a broadcaster like RTL that lives from great entertainment – often live – the importance of repetitions will not change. “They are necessary in order to be able to program economically, but our aspiration is and remains to maintain our very high proportion of in-house and new production in a year like this and to further increase it in the following years.” the expanded number of providers increased. “For smaller broadcasters, the film on television is of great importance, as is shown, among other things, by the very successful film evenings at Nitro.”

ARD is of course pleased that millions of viewers are currently watching the old “crime scene” episodes – but there will be new episodes of the first one in autumn. “In the long term, a national full program can only set the tone with first programs and thus be sure of a large audience,” says the ARD public broadcaster.

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