When the Simpsons gather in one room, coziness and harmony are not the predominant qualities. The family nevertheless attracts Germany’s kid viewers more than any other animated show. Up to 45 percent of kids watch the adventures of Bart, Maggie and Homer on Germany’s ProSieben TV during its 5 p.m. daily time slot.
‘Kids seem to be fascinated by this disorganized family,’ says Marie-Line Petrequin, vice president of animation at ProSieben. ‘Young children just like the funny yellow characters, but older kids already understand the drastic humor and the social aspects of the show.’
The independent research institute Jugend Film Fernsehen (JFF) in Munich verifies ProSieben’s announcements. A survey in schools and kindergardens found that The Simpsons is the most popular animated show in Germany. ‘The Simpsons break rules,’ says Natascha Basic from JFF, ‘and that’s exactly what kids like.’ Preschool kids named Sesame Street (on ARD), Tom & Jerry (ProSieben) and Sendung mit der Maus (ARD) as their favorite shows, and kids age six to eight mentioned Tom & Jerry, Sailor Moon and Power Rangers (RTL).
At Kinderkanal, Germany’s public kids channel, mainly classic animated series like Pinocchio, Heidi or Tim and Struppi are popular. ‘The main reason for the success of Heidi and Hanni and Nanni is the fact that the stories are so well known through the books,’ says Diana Schulte-Kellinghaus, program planner at Kinderkanal. Tim and Struppi also originated outside of TV-as a comic book.
The same interest in classic characters is detectable for Super RTL, ZDF and Nickelodeon.
Duck Tales at Super RTL attracts more than 1.5 million kids, and Goofy & Max is watched by 40 percent of three- to 13-year-olds. ‘Kids choose Disney characters [because] they know the quality of the animation,’ says Andreas Seitz from Super RTL.
At ZDF, Heidi, Benjamin Blümchen and Tabaluga are the most popular programs. Tabaluga reaches 26.9 percent of three- to 13-year-olds. The Tabaluga and Benjamin Blümchen characters have been brought to children’s minds with books, music tapes and toys long before they appeared on TV. ‘Tabaluga is a well-known character in Germany, and the story goes to the heart,’ says Susanne Müller, head of children’s programs at ZDF.
Nickelodeon’s most popular animated shows are Die Drillinge, Little Rosey and knuspertortenshow. The highest-rated program, Die Drillinge, is watched by an average of 244,000 viewers age three to 13.