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Box Office - Czech Republic

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Czech retro true-crime series Nineties breaks viewership records


The series helmed by Slovak director Peter Bebjak has become the most-watched series on Czech channels since 2004

Czech retro true-crime series Nineties breaks viewership records
Nineties by Peter Bebjak

Small screens in the Czech Republic have been manifesting a huge appetite for the crime genre, which has been among the most popular domestic output of late. This hunger has been partially satiated by new batches of true crime, such as Guru (see the news), and the miniseries The Attachment Theory (see the news), aimed primarily at the VoD market. Czech Television has also regularly been delivering new crime fixes for the audience, such as Peter Bebjak’s psychological crime series Justice, which was sold to Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s company (see the news). And once again, the trinity of Slovak director Bebjak, the genre of the crime series and Czech Television is what we find behind the latest record-breaking achievement, as the miniseries Nineties has become the most-watched show domestically since 2004.

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Nineties originated as a prequel to the series Cases of the 1st Department, which reflects the most famous real criminal cases from the Czech Republic’s recent past. Dan Wlodarczyk and Bebjak shared directing duties on the show, which has been named the best Czech crime television series of the last decade, according to a survey of Czech viewers (during which 23,000 votes were cast) carried out at domestic portal (read more - in Czech - here). Nineties, as the title suggests, revolves around real-life crime cases that unfolded during the post-Velvet Revolution era of the early 1990s.

Each of the six episodes managed to attract an average of 2.23 million viewers when it aired, while the average audience share has been 47.51%. “The crime series appealed almost equally to men and women (a 47:53 split), most in the age bracket of 45-64 years, and then in the age group of 25-44 years. The interest in the series grew with the education level of the viewers,” said Czech Television spokesperson Karolína Blinková.

The overall share of delayed viewing accounted for almost 50% of the total figures. Around 161,000 viewers saw the series online within one week of the original airing, which is the second-largest delayed viewing after another small-screen hit from Czech Television’s original programming, the provocative comedy series Most!, directed by Jan Prušinovský. The most-watched episode was the fifth one, revolving around the infamous case of the Orlík Killers, a gang of serial killers active between 1991 and 1993. The episode has been seen by 2.41 million viewers and thus became the most-watched Sunday show in a prime-time slot since the advent of electronic audience measurement in 1997.

The autumn season will see the return of the original series Cases of the 1st Department, with its third season. “I have already managed to shoot all of my episodes, and second director Michal Blaško will be shooting until early March,” confirmed Bebjak, who is returning to helm the series. Blaško is a rising Slovakian director, who worked with Bebjak on the Slovak-Ukrainian big-budget epic The Slavs (see the news). He is also behind the miniseries Suspicion [+see also:
interview: Štěpán Hulík
series profile
, which recently bowed at the Berlinale, and is readying his feature-length debut, Victim [+see also:
film review
interview: Michal Blaško
film profile

Moreover, Bebjak is not only a prolific director active in the Czech Republic, but is also a producer. The Slovak production outfit that he owns with producer Rastislav Šesták, D.N.A. Production, is behind several series now showing during the current Czech television season, including the comedy-crime series Ghost, starring Czech-Serbian actor Predrag Bjelac, known from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian; the medical series DOC, based on the true story of Italian doctor Pierdante Piccioni; and Boss, following the head of a Homicide department who is trying to clear her husband’s name.

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