The retro wave in TV – top or flop for advertisers?

With classics like “TV Total,” “Wetten, dass…!” and shows like “RTL-Turmspringen” and “Die 100.000 Mark Show” soon to return to RTL, the retro-novum has long been in full swing. But what’s the point? Who watches the formats and what are the right tactics for advertisers with regard to this?

What we are all aware of is that linear television nowadays hardly scores with series or blockbusters; this segment has long since been taken over by streaming providers. But the effect of the event character of big shows remains unchanged. RTL has also been in a state of a change for more than a year: less trash – whether in the formats or the people who host them – and more entertainment with attitude and event highlights. With the retro formats, that’s exactly what’s possible. Here, well-known big show names meet with the typical TV character of the 1990s to 2010s, the supposed highlight of the weekend. The target group here is today’s 30/40+ year-olds, who also followed the broadcasts and shows back then. This is unlikely to reach the young target group, unless it creates an effect similar to that of 20-30 years ago: family-like pack watching.

However, the example of “TV Total” shows that the first edition of a retro show is particularly successful: while on 1.12.2021 there was still a viewership (in the commercial break) of 1.9 million (target group: E 14+), the episodes of the last weeks could ‘only’ show a viewership of 1.1 million. That’s a loss of more than 40 percent. As already suspected, TV Total achieved its highest ratings among 30-39 year olds.

Even if it can still be worthwhile for advertisers in terms of CPM and environment at the current time, there is a danger that viewers’ expectations of the show have not been met. In the past, programs and shows of this type did not have to compete with streaming services or the like.

For advertisers, it is therefore advisable to be present at the first broadcast of a retro format if regular broadcasts are planned. If it no longer works (from performance or profitability KPIs), the environment will not continue to be occupied – although in such a case, the stations will also react quickly. As an advertiser, however, you can almost get the idea of running retro-level ads in these environments as well. Zott could relaunch the jingle for its cream yogurt or Müller could call out the “fruit alert” again. That would give viewers the perfect retro feeling.