The preparations took a full decade – and in September 2019, the largest Arctic expedition in human history finally started. Organized by the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), it involves the German icebreaker “Polarstern” drifting for one year through the ice deserts around the North Pole to investigate the Arctic climate system and its effects on the global climate. The Bertelsmann Content Alliance is on board as the expedition’s exclusive German-language media partner.
A camera team from UFA Show & Factual accompanied the expedition exclusively throughout the entire year. The resulting high-end documentary, “Arctic Expedition,” (working title) will air on ARD in fall 2020.
Gruner + Jahr sent a reporter to the (perhaps not so) “eternal ice” for six weeks; the G+J magazines “Stern,” “Geo,” “Geolino” and “P.M.” provided exclusive coverage. A photographer captured the expedition in pictures. Her unique photos have been published in G+J magazines, and will also be featured with previously unpublished shots in an international illustrated book to be published by Prestel Verlag, part of Verlagsgruppe Random House, in fall 2020. Verlagsgruppe will also publish the report of expedition leader Markus Rex through C. Bertelsmann Verlag, and a children’s book through cbj. The Audio Alliance is also accompanying the expedition, capturing exclusive audio content. The podcast “Arctic Drift – The Audio Logbook” takes listeners on a spectacular journey through the ice and provides auditory glimpses of life on board.
One year after its founding, the Bertelsmann Content Alliance already commands a key position in the rapidly growing market for podcasts and audiobooks. In May 2019, it founded the Audio Alliance to produce podcasts with all interested Bertelsmann companies and external partners. Within just a few months more than 65 formats were created in Germany, generating millions of views. Audience favorites include the true crime podcast “Stern Crime – Spurensuche” (“Searching for Clues”), in which top investigators talk about their cases; the “Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten” podcast (“Good Times, Bad Times”), which features the stars of the daily series looking back on the episodes of the previous week; and “So bin ich eben!” (“That’s Just the Way I Am!”) by psychologist and bestselling author Stefanie Stahl. The Audio Alliance now collaborates with Bertelsmann companies around the world, and also exclusively with top US producer Wondery.
Bertelsmann also launched a user-friendly platform for distributing podcasts: Audio Now is open to publishers worldwide, and currently pools approximately 1,000 podcasts. These include popular formats such as “The Daily” from the “New York Times” and “Steingart’s Morning Briefing,” as well as podcasts and audio series from various ARD regional broadcasting stations, such as “Tagesschau in 100 Sekunden” (“News in 100 Seconds”), a daily roundup of the day’s news in 100 seconds.
Audio Now not only offers audio fans a great variety of content, but also ensures transparent usage data for all publishers.
The Audio Now podcasts are marketed by the Ad Alliance. With this dovetailing of production through the Audio Alliance, distribution and analytics via Audio Now and monetization by the Ad Alliance, the Bertelsmann Content Alliance covers the entire value chain, and can develop the market with a high degree of independence from the US platforms.
Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time – and the Bertelsmann Content Alliance is using its media reach to send out a clear signal. In September 2019, Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, UFA, RTL Radio, Verlagsgruppe Random House and Gruner + Jahr spotlighted environmental and climate protection for a full month. Readers, users, listeners and viewers were introduced to the topic and shown how everyone can make a meaningful contribution under the heading “Let’s Tackle It!”
Gruner + Jahr published several magazines and specials, including the line extension “Brigitte Be Green.“ The Audio Alliance produced a podcast on the topic of plastic-free living for Audio Now. UFA focused on the aspect of green production on its social media channels. Verlagsgruppe Random House launched a website that provides an overview of the many different books published on the subject of sustainability. Mediengruppe RTL initiated a week of action to call for responsible treatment of the environment. At “ntv,” all news, magazines and documentaries covered Sustainability Week. One highlight was the “Jenke Experiment” by extreme reporter Jenke von Wilmsdorff, who this time devoted himself to the topic of avoiding plastic waste.
A representative study later showed that the collectively organized Climate Week was noticed by nearly half of all Germans age 14 and older, and made three out of four respondents aware that “we must live more consciously in the future.”
At the same time, the companies in the Bertelsmann Content Alliance participated in “be green,“ Bertelsmann’s environmental management initiative. Presentations on recycling and upcycling, joint waste collection campaigns and workshops on waste avoidance served to promote environmental awareness among employees.
In his career Udo Jürgens produced more than 50 albums with more than a thousand songs, which sold about 100 million copies. A music legend in the German-speaking world, Jürgens composed and sang with inexhaustible creativity, and his work continues to resonate to this day. The artist would have celebrated his 85th birthday on September 30, 2019 – a good occasion for the Bertelsmann Content Alliance companies to honor the great entertainer’s memory with special programs, magazines, a podcast and a box-office feature.
UFA Fiction made a movie of the popular musical “Ich war noch niemals in New York” (“I’ve never been to New York”), and Vox broadcast a four-hour documentary with some previously unpublished material. The Audio Alliance published an exclusive podcast about the life of the exceptional artist and performer on Audio Now. Gruner + Jahr’s people and lifestyle magazine “Gala” dedicated a large special issue to the entertainer. The Verlagsgruppe Random House imprint Limes Verlag published Udo Jürgens’ autobiographical novel “Der Mann mit dem Fagott” (“The Man with the Bassoon”), which has sold more than 225,000 copies to date.
Udo Jürgens felt a close connection to Bertelsmann throughout his life, so it was fitting for the Bertelsmann Content Alliance to pay a cross-media tribute to the music legend.
“Ku’damm 56” tells the story of Caterina Schöllack and her three daughters. The narrative centers on the middle daughter, Monika, who instead of looking for a suitable husband prefers to devote herself to her passion: rock ‘n’ roll. It is a story about revolution and emancipation, and about free love, first love and love late in life.
That is how TV audiences know the UFA production about the Galant dance school. The successful ZDF miniseries will now take to the stage – as a musical at the Theater des Westens in Berlin starting December 13, 2020. The libretto for the musical adaptation was penned by the award-winning screenwriter Annette Hess (“Weißensee,” “Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo”) and the creative producers and songwriters Ulf Leo Sommer and Peter Plate (Sarah Connor, Bibi and Tina, Max Raabe, Rosenstolz).
The musical was produced by BMG and UFA. From TV miniseries to musical – yet another example of how the Bertelsmann Content Alliance is expanding creative content across media genres, growing both its reach and its relevance.