Why 30 Rock Got a Zero Rating in Germany
It's hard enough for some Americans to make sense of 30 Rock's specific cultural references (Ann Curry's pent-up rage, Lou Dobbs' immigration agenda, and Ann Coulter, to name just a few) so it's understandable that the charm of Tina Fey's banter-heavy sitcom could be lost in translation. But when network ZDFNeo reported that the ratings from 30 Rock's German debut last night were a big, fat zero, we couldn't help but question why Deutschland would turn its nose up at one of America's best sitcoms -- especially when Liz Lemon throws in the occasional German punch line. And then we remembered why.
Germany is the country that did not laugh at Seinfeld. Fault the too-literal translations, the fact that the audience's laughter onscreen did not match up with anything their culture might have found humorous, or the fact that Germans just can't relate to the pursuit of the "big salad" or our fascination with a "bubble boy." Or maybe it is their unhealthy predilection for David Hasselhoff.
Whatever the reason, 30 Rock met the same fate with its 0.0 rated premiere last night and will likely not attract more viewers. If anything, the references made at TGS are more culture-specific (Honky Grandma Be Trippin'). If the German market couldn't get behind Liz Lemon spite-purchasing an entire street cart worth of hot dogs (translation: sausages) in the pilot, there is no hope.
30 Rock took a while to grow in popularity in the United States, with 5.8 million viewers its first season, a number that gradually increased to 7.5 million viewers its third season. But America was familiar with Tina Fey from her days at Saturday Night Live and quickly nurtured her as America's comedic sweetheart. Perhaps if Fey had circulated Germany in a three-week long campaign that involved her parodying Angela Merkel, 30 Rock's German premiere would have met much larger numbers.
Sadly, ZDFNeo (the German network airing 30 Rock) also debuted last night, an expensive endeavor by German broadcaster ZDF that demanded a $40 million budget and a careful marketing strategy touting its crown jewel: 30 Rock, which bombed with less than 5,000 viewers. The channel was targeting a young male viewership with a line-up of English-speaking programs including USA's In Plain Sight, Miami Vice, and since they did not learn from Germany's initial reaction, Seinfeld.
30 Rock should not be ashamed of its transatlantic numbers though. Schillerstraße probably wouldn't pull more than a 3 share in the US -- unless it was up against The Jay Leno Show. The numbers on Bulgaria's premiere of Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip are still pending.
· 30 Rock Scores Zero Rating in German Debut [Hollywood Reporter]