It works! For more virtual channels on ARD, RTL+ & Co.

If you haven’t had enough of “Tatort” tonight after “Alles was Recht ist” with Eisner & Fellner and want to watch the next one tomorrow, I can only advise you to get home from work an hour earlier – so that you can make up your mind. Because: the ARD media library, with its undeniably lavish program selection, doesn’t make it that easy.


“Tatort” fans can either use the “current episodes and highlights” on the corresponding subpage of their favorite crime series or see what others are “currently popular”, choose films by teams, by “current investigators with ex-colleagues” or for “Former investigators” if you don’t want to look at a restored “Kult-Tatort” as an alternative – or wouldn’t it be wise to first take one from the “Last Chance!” section, because otherwise it will soon be gone?

Luxury problem of the streaming age

It is undoubtedly a great privilege to be able to choose from an almost inexhaustible pool of moving image content at any time from our sofa at home, something that we would have massively envied two decades ago. At the same time, the possibility of being permanently the head of programming also made sure of one of all people lean back-Medium such as television – instruction manual: turn on, sit back, be entertained – a nuisance Lean forwards– Obligation to precede. Because if you want to stream, you have to have decided beforehand: what actually.

With a growing number of platforms and providers, this has become a strenuous obstacle for many who are simply looking for something to do. There is, as the saying goes in the USA, “too many shows, too many platforms”.

All media libraries and streaming portals offer the same picture to those who are less willing to make decisions: the tiles of horror, which row by row and right scroll by right scroll open up another option, which could be selected, but which, in case of doubt, has been ignored a hundred times for no reason , without deciding for (or consciously against) it.

Caution, potential cancellation of subscription!

What must have seemed like a luxury problem of the streaming age to previous generations is now also understood by providers as a serious problem that, in the worst case, could eventually lead to cancellation of the subscription.

Netflix prompted “decision fatigue” a year ago to introduce a new “Play Something” option, which, when activated, shows the subscriber content that the algorithm thinks they might like, to lighten the burden of the decision. “Choose Play Something and we’ll pick things for you to watch based on your tastes,” Netflix tells its members. It’s the motion picture revolutionist’s quiet acknowledgment that there are multiple ways (and usage situations) to watch TV online.


Competitor Peacock, the streaming offshoot of NBC Universal, went one step further when it started two years ago and not only provided its users with the usual selection of tiles and genres to select their content from the start, but also “virtual channels”. that work like in linear television: switch on, lean back, let yourself be surprised.

A separate channel for every taste

There’s a “Great Moments” channel that revisits the highlights of the Olympic Games; “Fallon Tonight,” which runs 24-hour episodes of Jimmy Fallon’s late-night show; one for Real Housewives and one for wrestling fans; “SNL Vault” churning out “Saturday Night Live” etc.

The idea is not new: the models are providers from Pluto TV to Tubi to Xumi, who have long specialized in simulating linear television with countless virtual channels and corresponding content – a kind of advertising-financed counter-model to the various subscription providers. Almost all of them now belong to large media corporations (Paramount, Fox, Comcast), which thus have additional means of displaying existing content. Quite similar to how the large German broadcasting groups handle their digital special interest channels.

But precisely because RTL and ProSieben, ARD and ZDF are already so familiar with the recombining of archival material, it is a mystery to me why they don’t use this expertise for their own media libraries.

Tentative attempts with “Now!” & Co.

Admittedly, there are tentative attempts in this direction. Deutsche Telekom not only operates the streaming channel “Dabei TV”, which can be filled with its own content, but also stamps event-related virtual channels out of the ground (and then back on again) – like last year for the European Football Championship, when the acquired rights to two sports channels that were promoted to the top of the Magenta TV EPG. (And quite competitive to the offer of ARD and ZDF.)

On RTL+, a single virtual channel called “Now!” based on the old platform name series and soaps in one piece – but only between 8:15 p.m. and midnight. Damn it, it should be better and, above all, more individual.

After all, the blessing of virtual channels is that they can be so sharp and special that traditional linear marketing would otherwise hardly allow. And that they could theoretically not only be based on genres, but also on people, specific events or even moods.

Emigrate, but around the clock

In Cologne, there would be a unique opportunity to finally bring together the numerous meandering reality couplings offered by RTL+ in one place in order to be there – even across channels! – to let one drama escalate after another instead of forcing the audience to choose between “Are You the One”, “Ex on the Beach”, “Temptation Island” and “Love Island”. Martin Rütter and Guido Maria Kretschmer would finally get their right to be able to fill an entire station with content shaped by them – puppies and shopping queens all day long! A separate channel on which people permanently emigrate would be a matter of course (AT: “Hello, Goodbye Germany!”).

And instead of piling up further overview pages with tiles of horror behind well-intentioned content groups, editorially classified items could also be created as a channel – like the current RTL + recommendation bar “It still exists – the good 90 minute”, where then one hour and a half after the next would run. (Then someone might accidentally see “Balko: Teneriffa” or “Einsatz in den Alpen”.)


© Screenshot RTL+
It’s also possible as a channel: “It still exists – the good 90-minute film”.

On the Lerchenberg in Mainz, it will be difficult to deny that the plans for their own “Bares for Rares” channel have not been in the drawer for years anyway – and that up to now they have only been reluctant to make such a move out of media-political caution.

Breakfast TV all day

Joko and Klaas non-stop shouldn’t be a problem for Joyn in the meantime. Such a virtual “Masked Singer” channel would know how to fill the few gaps between new seasons, spin-offs and the detailed accompanying reporting. And what a blessing it would be for the part of the population (and Sat.1) who work shifts to finally be able to show breakfast television all day long! (Don’t laugh, Peacock does just that with his Today All Day channel.)

However, I see possibly the greatest opportunities for the ARD media library, which could give even more emphasis to its complexity with a lavish range of channels. The first step has already been taken, since this week there has been a separate “Theme World of Daily News” on offer, in which everything current should be “faster and easier to find” – if you succeed, in the fourth preview image of the stage carousel completely Click the blue button at the top of the home page (status: Friday afternoon), scroll to the far right in the “tagesschau | News” section and go to “More” or scroll down very far and click the ” Tagesschau” logo in front of the double dark blue background. (It’s self-explanatory.)


Precisely because ARD is already familiar with constantly redistributing self-produced content via an outrageously large number of stations, it would be up to the professionals in Munich, Cologne, Hamburg and elsewhere to set a virtual example – and in addition to to start a whole series of channels in addition to the already established “theme worlds”, the organization of which does not cost a cent extra!

24 hours at a time smiley thrillers

One that runs non-stop scandinavian licensed series; one, on the Jörg Schönenborn really all may show bar charts created by him for the Saarland election; one in which finally no committee has to agree when there are 24 hours of laughter thrillers running there; one with a bad mood guarantee and non-stop political talk; one to lure Pierre M. Krause back from the clutches of Sat.1 with his concentrated work; one with non-stop household tips from Yvonne Willicks just to annoy my esteemed predecessor and Sunday column grandmaster Hans Hoff; one for the “crime scene”, of course; and twenty others to compile everything else that gets buried in the depths of the program archive. Seriously!

I admit that this requirement has the tiny disadvantage that in order to be able to be sprinkled with virtual special channels, one must first be aware of one decide got to. But the good news is that once you’ve noticed it, you can click it again and again to run in the background while you iron, cook food or put the kids to bed in front of the TV – just like in the good old days – without feeling like you’re missing out on something important.

Because sometimes it’s exactly what we want from television without having to make a decision about it beforehand.

And with that: back to Cologne.

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