Greek Television '05 In Facts and Figures

While viewing patterns usually prove as hard to break as bad habits, the Greek television scene has undergone a significant change in the last year.

Between October 2004 and March 2005 (according to "J.T. TV-Film International's Greece/Cyprus Television Market" report), Antenna channel ranked first in ratings, with a total average share of 21.29 percent. Antenna ranked second with women aged 15-24 and first with women aged 25 and up; it was first with men aged 15-64 and second with men older than 65. Antenna is also the second-most watched station by adults with higher education levels, and first with other education levels.

Antenna's high ranking is due to its popular newscast (which commands a 23 percent share on weekends and 20.2 percent share on weekdays), its daily morning show and the prevalence of primetime Greek-language dramas, as well as Greek-language soap operas. It has seen great success with reality series Fame Story III. Due to surprisingly high ratings early on, Antenna extended the series' duration from the usual three months to six months. Its ratings increased every week: in the season finale, where the talent-contest winner was announced, the show earned a 78.4 percent rating. Antenna plans on building upon that success by airing All Star Fame Story - which began in April of this year.

Mega Channel came in second in overall ratings, commanding an 18.44 percent share. It ranked first with women aged 15-24 and second with women aged 25 and over; it came in second for men aged 15-64, but was the most-watched station for adults with higher education.

In the 2004-2005 season, Mega launched eight new Greek-language series, for a total of 16 homegrown programs on its schedule every week. It broadcasts UEFA Champions League soccer games (comprising of teams from across Europe) on Wednesday nights, and has recently eliminated its children's programming completely. Mega also schedules re-runs of older, successful Greek-language programs and has an output deal with Sony.

This past year Mega Channel launched Survivor II, Greece's own version of the internationally popular format, and it was the top-ranked reality series.

Mega Channel now runs a close second in ratings to Antenna; according to the March 2005 results, Antenna was at 20.8 percent, Mega at 20 percent. This close competition is due to Mega's launch of a new Greek-language program in the 7-8 p.m. primetime slot, which lead to a victory in that time zone, previously held for many years by Antenna.

Alpha TV remains in third place with a 13.42 percent share overall, coming in third among women 45 and over and men 45 to 64, second with men over 65 and third in all education levels. Dimitris Kontominas has taken over Alpha; he holds interests in financial services, insurance, telecoms, aviation and food services in Greece. Kontominas has instituted many changes to the station's line-up, including more informative programming and talk-shows.

Alpha even tried to ride the coattails of the reality craze with its locally-produced version of The Apprentice, but it was quickly canceled after performing poorly. In May 2005 the net set its sights on reality gold again, with talent program Dream Show, hosted by popular presenter Andrea Mikroutsikos. Alpha Channel's content is made up of 80 percent Greek-language programming; the rest is comprised of telenovelas and feature films.

Star Channel ranks fourth among Greek stations. It has an output deal with Warner Bros., NBC Universal and with Dreamworks. Star does not acquire additional series, due to these deals. The status of its deal with NBC Universal is currently under review for renewal.

Star transmits three movies every day, both Greek and foreign-language. It runs children's programming from previous acquisitions, as well as from its Warner Bros. deal and Jetix (Formerly Fox Kids) Block deal. Children's programming runs from 6 a.m. to 12 noon on weekends.

Alter Channel comes in at a close fifth, and its schedule consists of locally-produced newscasts, current affairs programming, talk-shows and lifestyle series, as well as children's programming and films. On the weekends, Alter shows classic historical films.

NET, a public station, comes in sixth. Seventh-place is filled by public station ET-1, followed by negligibly ranking ET-3; ET-1 and NET cover UEFA Champions League games on Tuesdays. The government channels have recently announced that they will reduce documentary programming, due to the deal with the History Channel and the Biography Channel, for approximately 200 hours of product per year.

Finally, the newest addition, the Hellenic Parliament Channel, went on the air on January 7, 2004. Reaching 19 major cities in Greece (with plans to expand nationwide), it covers parliamentary sessions, and the President of the parliament is in charge of acquisitions decisions at the station. It also broadcasts documentaries, older classical movies and mini-series. It recently renewed its current volume deals with the BBC, securing over 300 hours of factual and fiction product.

On all the networks, Greek-language fictional series make up 20.29 percent of total programming aired, while entertainment programs (game shows and Greek-language satirical comedy shows) dominate the schedules at 21.79 percent.

Made-for-television and feature films follow at 18.57 percent, while nightly newscasts account for 15.62 percent of content.

The total ad revenue for 2004 for all Greek stations was 771.11 million euro, which is 37.74 percent of the total money spent on media advertising in Greece that year. 30.37 percent of that total ad money went to Antenna, 29.09 percent to Mega and 13.48 percent to Star, while Alpha received 12.35 percent of the total television ad revenue. But a decrease in ad revenue has been forecast for 2005, due to the current bad economy.

Though it is clear that commercial television rules the Greek airwaves, during the 2004 Summer Olympic Games, government-funded ET-1 and NET (which aired the games) won gold and silver medals respectively. Compared to their performances in the same time period the previous year, usual top dogs Antenna and Mega both dropped approximately six share points, while Alpha TV dropped three share points. ET-1 and NET gained approximately 10 and eight share points respectively during the Olympics, compared to their performance the year before.