Prime time

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Prime Time (in Austria alternatively prime time , even English prime time or prime time is for the "important time") in radio and television , the period of highest Hörbeteiligung or television use.


The distinction between prime time and the airtime before and after is of great importance for the placement of radio and television programs, as hearing and viewing participation as well as market shares depend on it. Private television and radio broadcasters in particular are dependent on this distinction because they can generate the highest advertising income per minute of advertising during prime time. In order to guarantee this, the radio and television broadcasters have to adapt their program offerings to the course of the day of the audience, whereby different time periods are determined within a day by means of “ dayparting ”. The vertical dayparting takes into account the audience or viewer classes that change during the day and are offered programs specific to the target group. The horizontal programming , however, starts from the course of the week, trying to " stripping " in the same time slot television series to be positioned to achieve a binding program of the audience.

Radio and television

The prime time is based on the usage habits of the recipients. These are extremely different in radio and television. Internationally, the prime time slot also depends on the socio-cultural conditions that influence listening and viewing habits.


In radio prime time is also called " Drive Time called" is the 6:00 to 9:00 and 16:00 to 7:00 p.m. and the commuters on the car radio to reach. Programs that get a slot in that period can expect the highest ratings . In between is the " daytime " period. Any program outside of this core program area only reaches a relatively small part of the audience. During the "drive time", target group-specific programs are broadcast on the radio. In addition to music, these include traffic radio , frequent time announcements or specific radio advertising such as car advertising; Distracting or lengthy interviews are avoided . The interval between news broadcasts , which often follow every half an hour, is also typical . In the USA, too, “drive time” is an important part of daily news broadcasts, especially since it is the only time when the number of listeners to the radio news exceeds the television news. Also thematic channels based wherever possible on that program format.

watch TV

On weekdays you can watch TV between the morning slots (7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.), time of day (9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), the " early fringe " (also: access prime time or pre prime time ; from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.) Clock), the " prime time " (8:00 pm to 11:00 pm), the " late fringe " (11:00 pm to 1:00 am) and the " late night " (1:00 am to 7:00 am). Each of these periods has a specific composition of the audience, because “daytime” mainly reaches housewives and pensioners , while “late night” encounters shift workers and night owls . Prime time, however, unites all families. These audiences are served as a target group with a program and advertising offer tailored to them. Access prime time's broadcasting slot in Germany and Austria is primarily occupied by tabloid magazines , soap operas and sitcoms . In German public television, the placement of expensive productions during prime time is irrelevant, as it is subject to a total advertising ban in accordance with Section 16 (1) of the State Broadcasting Treaty. If expensive productions are shown here, they have to be financed from general income , as specific advertising income may not be generated. In private television, on the other hand, the broadcasting slots achieve the highest advertising income per minute during prime time, so that a high profit margin can be achieved with film rights . In the prime time slot, television use by the advertising- relevant target group , which is particularly important for advertisers, is particularly large.

In US television, prime time is divided into sub-phases. “Early evening” or “early fringe” is between 5:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., while the peak time with the highest ratings is between 7:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. “Late evening” or “late fringe” begins at 11 p.m. Here, “prime time” is the period from 8 p.m. (7 p.m. on Sundays) to 11 p.m. in the coastal time zones or 7 p.m. (6 p.m. on Sundays) to 10 p.m. in the domestic time zones, in which television usage is particularly high .


It is the goal of radio and television to win over the audience / viewers gained during prime time as fully as possible for the following programs. This can be technically promoted by pre-switching on the split screen or by program information that makes you curious. The recipients often seem to consume several programs in a row, because they want to see both the beginning and the end, especially since there are only a few alternatives that start at the same time on other channels. This audience loyalty, but in particular also the wandering movements of viewers between successive programs or in the case of commercials , is measured by the audience flow .

Audience retention depends on recognizability and repeatability, the essential attributes of television series. However, game shows or casting shows also meet these criteria and are therefore preferably broadcast during prime time. On the other hand, audience loyalty cannot be established if a television series is broadcast at different broadcasting slots.


The regulations for prime time can be found in Germany in the state media laws . According to Section 33b (3) LMG NRW, the prime time on radio is regularly between 6 a.m. and 12 p.m., on television between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. In Section 6, Paragraph 2, Clause 4 of the Lower Saxony Media Act, "prime time on radio is regularly between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m., on television regularly between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m., with the exception of local or regional television where the Prime time is regularly between 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. ”This shows that there is no uniform prime time even within Germany.

However, movies and other prime-time television programs don't start on most programs until 8:15 p.m. Attempts to start these at 8 p.m. have not been successful. The reason for the audience's insistence on 8:15 pm as the start time of “prime time” is the broadcasting slot for the news program Tagesschau from 8:00 pm to 8:15 pm , which has been established for decades . Not only does this program bind many regular viewers itself, its well-established date has also meant that most viewers expect programs to begin at 8.15 p.m. - even those who do not watch the Tagesschau often only switch on around 8.15 p.m.

Program content

The public broadcaster had (during prime time in 1999 an emphasis on programs with information or news ARD , 39.3% ZDF : 45.4%), while RTL significantly lagged with 24.7%. The opposite is true for fiction . ProSieben leads here with 47.6%, followed by RTL with 45.3% (ARD: 35.7%, ZDF: 31.2%).

In the mid-seventies, the political magazines on ARD and ZDF were moved from prime time to the later evening in order to free up these coveted slots for entertainment. From 1978 on, prime time after 8:15 p.m. was reserved for entertainment, political magazines had to give way to 9:00 p.m., and later even to 9:45 p.m. The ARD had to "make an offer for majorities at 8:15 pm", recognized the ARD entertainment coordinator. State media law also stipulates that 30% of a window program must be in prime time (Section 27 (2) LMG NRW).

Audience magnets such as live broadcasts (sports programs, royal weddings) are planned, if possible, so that they can be broadcast during prime time; important decisions in the Olympic Games must be played live during American prime time.

Prime time and commercials

The public broadcasters are subject to a total ban on television advertising from 8 p.m. onwards according to the State Broadcasting Treaty. However, there is no such restriction for private broadcasters. At “prime time” you can fall back on massively attractive programs, primarily from the entertainment sector. These ensure high ratings and thus high advertising income during the most expensive advertising time per minute. A television production has paid off if its costs are lower than the advertising revenue generated during the broadcast. This probability is highest in the “prime time” window. This can lead to excess demand for advertising opportunities during prime time, which the broadcasters try to divert to other broadcasting slots through appropriate pricing policies in the interests of optimizing the whole day. In the private sector, the proportion of commercials was continuously reduced in favor of “daytime” or “late evening”; This so-called “prime time equalization” is attempted by attractive programs before or after prime time.


As in Germany, prime time generally begins at 8.15 p.m. in Austria, because here too the television use of the target group, which is particularly noted by advertisers, is greatest. This target group consists of people aged 12 to 49 years. However, there is no standardized definition of the term prime time. Colloquially, a two-hour period of time is called prime time , which begins at 8.15 p.m. According to the Austrian branch of SevenOne Media , the main evening program starts 15 minutes earlier, while the ORF starts prime time at 7:25 p.m.


In German-speaking Switzerland , prime time at 8 p.m. has prevailed. The main news program Tagesschau starts there at 7.30 p.m.


In Europe, fictional in-house productions make up the largest proportion of prime time. Domestic productions dominate in countries with a high proportion of in-house production. In the UK, domestic productions make up 62% of prime time, France 71%, Germany 70%, Spain 43% and Italy 46%. In France there is a quota system according to which 50% of all programs broadcast during prime time must be of French or European origin. There are soap operas that are specially designed for “prime time” (“prime time soaps”).


Prime time in France ( Première partie de soirée ) begins between 8.40 p.m. and 9 p.m. and ends around 11.30 p.m.


Similar to Germany, the Dutch prime time must not collide with the news broadcast of the NOS Journal and therefore only starts at 8.30 p.m. and ends around 10.30 p.m.


Prime time in Italy ( Prima serata ) starts around 8 p.m. and ends around 11 p.m.


In Japanese television prime time takes 7 p.m. to 23:00. A kind of “super prime time” is distinguished from this, the golden time , which lasts from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Kati Förster, strategies of successful TV brands , 2011, p. 18.
  2. ^ A b Stewart Clark Rogers, Marketing Strategies , 2001, p. 104
  3. Mosheh Tsuikerman, Media Policy History , 2003 S. 261st
  4. ^ Brad Schultz, Broadcast News Producing , 2004, p. 124.
  5. Katja Lantzsch / Klaus-Dieter Altmeppen / Andreas Will, Handbuch Unterhaltungsproduktion , 2010, p. 1959.
  6. Thomas Breyer-Mayländer / Andreas Werner , Handbuch der Medienbetriebslehre , 2003, p. 220.
  7. Dietmar Detering, Economy of Media Content , 2001, p. 20.
  8. Katja Lantzsch / Klaus-Dieter Altmeppen / Andreas Will, Handbuch Unterhaltungsproduktion , 2010, p. 166.
  9. Jens Lucht, Public Broadcasting , 2006, p. 212.
  10. Joachim-Felix Leonhard / Hans-Werner Ludwig , Medienwissenschaft , 2002, p. 2271.
  11. Anja Reschke, The Inconvenient: How “Panorama” Changed the Republic , 2011.
  12. Too many shows: ARD is converting evening offerings , WAZ from November 13, 2012.
  13. Horst Hartwig, Sportmanagement , 1986, p. 111.
  14. Joachim-Felix Leonhard / Hans-Werner Ludwig, Medienwissenschaft , 2002, p. 2277
  15. Kirsten Korff-Sage, media competition on the advertising market , 1999, p. 46.
  16. Thomas Mayer, Media Law in the Context of Locationally Relevant Factors , 1997, p. 260.
  17. "Uncle Charlie" at prime time: "Deception of the fee payers"> Kleine Zeitung ( Memento from September 3, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  18. ORF reports six reach records - market shares - ›budget
  19. Advertising restrictions and bans Medienpaket - ( Memento of the original from November 9th, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  20. ^ SevenOne Media Austria - Media ABC
  21. ^ Andreas Hepp / Martin Löffelholz, Basic Texts for Transcultural Communication , 2002, p. 423.
  22. ^ Carola Drechsler, European funding for audiovisual media , 2009, p. 60.
  23. Internet in Italy more popular than television> Kleine Zeitung ( Memento from October 6, 2014 in the Internet Archive )