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Summary:

Ehrensenf is one of the best-known and longest running web TV shows in Germany. We stopped by their office in Cologne recently to hear more about what’s special about producing a show for a German audience. One of the biggest differences, apparently: Everyone is speaking German.

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Sprechen sie deutsch? Chances are, you don’t speak German, or Dutch, or Norwegian, or even French for that matter. Still, there is a whole world of web video out there produced specifically for those languages, and the makers of these videos have to deal with the fact that their audience is by much smaller than that of many web series produced for the US market.

So how do you produce for a smaller audience? What kind of formats are possible, and how do you make it work with a possibly much smaller budget? Those were some of the questions I had when I recently visited Ravenrocker in Cologne, Germany. Ravenrocker is the production company of Ehrensenf, one of the best-known and longest-running original shows produced for a German online audience.

Ravenrocker has been producing Ehrensenf as a daily show since late 2005, and Carola Sayer and Rainer Bender were getting ready to shoot episode 1062 when I stopped by their office in Cologne. Ehrensenf uses a very traditional girls-meet-news approach, and Sayer and Bender told me that they were definitely influenced by Rocketboom when they started. Still, the show’s subjects are very specific to its audience, with its hosts often riffing on German politics and other local news.

Bender told me that the average Ehrensenf episode gets about 10,000 to 15,000 views in its first few days, and Sayer said that it was very important for the show to have strong partners to actually reach that audience day after day. Ehrensenf used to be syndicated on the website of Der Spiegel and now has a distribution deal with 3min.de, a web series platform run by Deutsche Telekom.

They also told me that smaller audiences mean you can’t go all out and spend a lot of money on a high-quality scripted web series. Instead, people in Germany stick to news, comedy and commentary, and run their productions on the cheap. In the case of Ehrensenf, that means to use what you have. The studio Bender and Sayer are sitting in? It’s a revamped hallway / kitchen that’s part of their office space — and further proof that you don’t need to invest a lot to make things work, which is why Bender had the following to say to aspiring producers in smaller local markets: “Go for it, try it!”

Check out an episode of Ehrensenf below:

Related content on GigaOm Pro: By The Numbers: Budget Analysis of a Web Series (subscription required)

  1. From Wikipedia:

    “Kraut is a German word recorded in English from 1918 onwards as a derogatory term for a German, particularly a German soldier.”

    Is this how we treat foreign web series?

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    1. I’m German, so I’m allowed to do that :)

      If anything, it’s reclaiming a term, like embracing the term geek or nerd …

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    2. The headline was written by Janko, who is himself German and thus our most reliable expert on the relative offensiveness of the term today. :)

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  2. Ehrensenf is pretty great, reminds me somewhat of Rocketboom, but has its own distinctive style. If you understand German, it’s definitely worth a look.

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