Informing with self-awareness and contributing to the formation of opinion
Sven Pietsch, Editor-in-Chief Seven.One Entertainment Group
17 schoolchildren draw party leaders Annalena Baerbock, Olaf Scholz and Armin Laschet out of their shells with their questions about running for chancellor in the German federal elections, at prime time on SAT.1. To support the fight against COVID-19, TV presenters Linda Zervakis and Matthias Opdenhövel received their booster vaccines live on their own show on ProSieben. While campaigning to become Germany’s next chancellor, Green party leader Annalena Baerbock gave her first extensive interview on ProSieben and – in the final three-way debate on SAT.1, ProSieben and Kabel Eins – participated in the last and arguably most important face-off with her two opponents ahead of the federal elections.
The next big step for ProSiebenSat.1 Group’s Entertainment segment is expanding production activities to encompass an in-house newsroom: From the beginning of 2023, cross-platform news reports tailored to the target group will be produced directly at headquarters at Unterföhring in Bavaria. In this interview, Seven.One Entertainment Group’s Editor-in-Chief, Sven Pietsch, explains how the company already started implementing its content strategy through relevant topics, local in-house productions and live programming last year and how it will continue to address topics and formats in this way moving forward.
It forms part of our successful, ongoing strategy of producing local, current and relevant content under our own steam. It is our motivation to inform people in Germany and help them make up their own minds about issues. We intend to shoulder even more of this important sociopolitical responsibility going forward. With the rise of fake news and information flows driven by algorithms, independent, timely news coverage is more essential than ever before. There is no mistaking how people’s need for reliable, high-quality information programs has grown considerably in recent years. In response, we have significantly increased the number of sociopolitical information programs on our schedule. Thilo Mischke’s documentary for ProSieben in 2020 “Rechts. Deutsch. Radikal.” (Right-Wing. German. Radical.), for instance, attracted international attention. And the ProSieben news magazine show “Zervakis & Opdenhövel. Live.” has grappled with current issues of concern to people in Germany on a weekly basis since 2021.
Creating our own content is, of course, an advantage in itself. Plus, topical reporting opens up new avenues for us. Where necessary, we can, for instance, respond faster and more flexibly with special broadcasts at short notice. By fully integrating the central newsroom into our campus in Unterföhring, the staff will be able to work side by side with the magazine editorial teams. This way, we are bundling our information expertise and our journalistic savvy even more closely under one roof. It means we will also be able to distribute our news reports across all media platforms. The extent of how significant these new additions are for us and our viewers was already evident in our coverage of the German federal elections.
Absolutely! This was an incredible team effort involving many different colleagues and departments. We aired more than 26 hours of special broadcasts, created eight new TV formats and produced 76 reports tailored specifically to the federal elections. In total, more than 53 million viewers (aged 3 years+) watched our election coverage. And it wasn’t just in terms of the numbers but also the quality of the programs that we achieved great success. Our viewers especially appreciated that our style and method of reporting bore our distinctive stamp in that, for example, we introduced new angles and approaches to the political discussion while presenting the candidates and the issues in a fresh light. “Kannste Kanzleramt?” (Facing the Classroom) and “Die ProSieben-Bundestagswahl-Show” (The ProSieben Federal Elections Show) are proof positive that, without verging on the apolitical, even unconventional narrative styles are welcomed by a broad audience.
Of course, we are totally thrilled about the accolades. They are a testimony to the gains in relevance that our political reporting has made. More than that, they confirm our strategy is correct and spur us on in further strengthening our focus on independent content and formats in this line. In the final three-way TV debate, more than 4 million viewers (aged 3 years+) got to watch political events play out before them on our stations. In the run-up to the federal elections, our program garnered a great deal of attention and approval, especially from younger target groups. By addressing young audiences in a more specific and age-appropriate way, we reach viewer groups that hardly, if ever, watch public broadcasts.
In today’s media landscape, it is essential that we use our content to make our presence felt across all platforms. In considering how to strategically distribute content to optimum effect and attract as much attention as possible, social media has a major role to play, above all for young target groups. For our multi-station “Geh wählen!” campaign, we used all of our stations’ TV and online channels as well as our social media platforms to achieve 148 million gross exposures – an extremely large slice of the population – and appeal especially to young voters and non-voters.
This year will be devoted to building our new newsroom. We are entering a decisive phase in our preparations to produce and broadcast our news formats from Unterföhring in January 2023. What’s more, we will also expand our investigative journalism and work on reaching new documentary and reportage milestones, as we recently did with “SAT.1 investigativ” (SAT.1 Investigates). Notably with our political reporting, we aim to keep developing new ways of presenting current issues so that they remain interesting and relevant to our viewers, even outside of elections. 2022 will definitely be an exciting year.