Redseven Entertainment’s Jobst Benthues


With a slate that includes Germany’s Next Topmodel, A League of Their Own, Married at First Sight Germany, The Taste and The Biggest Loser, Redseven Entertainment has gained a reputation as one of Germany’s most prolific production companies in the entertainment sector. The company, part of Red Arrow Studios, has added to its already-impressive roster with local versions of Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, Meat the Family and Don’t Stop the Music, and it has a front-row seat to what’s trending in entertainment. Jobst Benthues, founder and CEO of Redseven Entertainment, talks to World Screen Newsflash about the flexibility needed in today’s production landscape and the types of entertainment working best nowadays.

***Image***TV FORMATS: Looking at the entertainment landscape, what genres have been most popular as of late?
BENTHUES: We see that entertainment with regard to social topics is very much in demand, especially social experiments. The interest among clients as well as among viewers has increased enormously, which is also reflected in our own factual portfolio: We have produced Wir sind klein und ihr seid alt(Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds) and GewissensBISSE? Das Fleischexperiment (Meat the Family) for the channel VOX. We are currently working on a German version of Don’t Stop the Music for ZDF, in which children from disadvantaged families learn a musical instrument, work together toward a big final concert and gain social competencies, motivation and self-confidence during the process. Kabel Eins is currently running a spin-off of our longtime documentary series Rosins Restaurants. In Rosins Heldenküche—Letzte Chance Traumjob (Rosin’s Kitchen of Heroes—Last Chance Dream Job), chef Frank Rosin shows young people a new perspective on life by training as a chef.

All these formats show that entertainment can inform, create awareness and have a strong message! This also helps viewers process what we have all experienced during the pandemic; particularly children, or the elderly, who have been pushed more than ever to the margins of our society, can participate in social life again.

TV FORMATS: How has the entertainment production landscape fared over the last two years, relative to other genres?
BENTHUES: The production landscape in the entertainment sector is perhaps more vibrant than ever before. Over the last two years, the pandemic has influenced this in several ways: Studio-show productions without an audience are easier to adapt to current circumstances than, for example, expensive scripted productions or filming documentary series, which often takes several months. In addition, escapism plays a key role: While we have to cope with crises in everyday life, we clearly need distraction. And a good entertainment program can be the best form of distraction!

TV FORMATS: What have been some of the innovative ways that Redseven has continued producing with new safety measures and protocols in place?
BENTHUES: Even before the pandemic, flexibility was one of our greatest strengths. Since Covid-19, we have become even faster, even more spontaneous and even more creative. We always had in mind that the Covid-19 restrictions would not limit our thinking or creativity, but that we would continue to do our best, working even harder to overcome the challenges. And these efforts have strengthened us as a team enormously!

In what is now the third year of the pandemic, we have gained a lot of experience that helps us make productions as safe as possible and protect our employees in the best way possible. We have, therefore, not been affected by cancellations or postponements since the beginning of 2021, and all our productions have gone ahead as scheduled. We produce according to the Covid-19 regulations of our shooting locations. Since last summer, we have also increasingly been filming abroad again. For the new season of Germany’s Next Topmodel, for example, we have been shooting in Los Angeles since January.

We, of course, continue to have very strict hygiene rules in the office as well as on our sets, and we test both crew and cast/on-screen talent regularly.

TV FORMATS: The local version of Married at First Sight has been a strong performer. What are some of the most challenging and interesting aspects to producing that show?
BENTHUES: MAFS has had a large fan base for years—and not just in Germany but worldwid. The show has been sold to over 130 countries, and we really benefit from being part of Red Arrow Studios. Hence, we can learn from each other and see what our colleagues are doing in other countries. This helps us keep the format fresh. We have already released a podcast and various additional shows on the channel’s social media platforms. In 2021, we also had five episodes of a new spin-off titled Married at First Sight International, which pulls together highlights from local versions all around the world.

The production of the show over the last two years has been very challenging due to the Covid-19 restrictions: Larger wedding ceremonies with guests even were forbidden for some time. In the end, however, we have faced this challenge by staying flexible, and so have our wedding couples. After all, marriage is less about the party and more about the chance to find the love of your life. In the end, this is what makes MAFS one of the most successful relationship shows in Germany and around the world: the candidates and their stories. We can only plan production up to a certain point, what happens then is determined by fate alone.

TV FORMATS: Germany’s Next Topmodel is a long-running hit. How do you work with the creative teams to keep that show fresh season after season?
BENTHUES: Steady progress has always been part of Redseven’s DNA. And this is especially true for GNTM, which has been one of the most successful and most popular shows on German TV for 16 years. Together with the team at ProSieben, we develop a whole new vision for the show before the broadcast of each season, and Heidi Klum also has a big say as host and executive producer.

Sometimes we make small tweaks, sometimes very big ones—and we keep thinking of new ideas! We’ve had various combinations of judges, filmed in so many different places between the U.S. and Australia and had candidates who don’t suit the typical beauty standards.

GNTM has been in my life for so many years: I was the head of entertainment at ProSieben when we bought the format license for Germany, and Redseven has been producing the show since 2012. The fact that you have to keep a show fresh and that you can still do that after almost 20 years is something we prove anew every year. In 2021, we produced the most successful season in 12 years and reached a market share of over 25 percent among 14- to 49-year-old viewers with the finale.

TV FORMATS: Any new productions of international formats you can highlight?
BENTHUES: We adapted many international formats for the German market last year. There were new seasons of our long-running hits, including The Taste, Eine Liga für sich—Buschis Sechserkette (A League of Their Own) and Hochzeit auf den ersten Blick (Married at First Sight)—all formats distributed by Red Arrow Studios International. Most recently, GewissenBISSE? Das Fleischexperiment (Meat the Family) and Buying Blind have been added to our portfolio, and I am very much looking forward to Don’t Stop the Music, which will be broadcast this spring.

For the first time, we also produced the British satire series Spitting Image: The Krauts’ Edition for Sky Germany.

But I would particularly like to highlight our version of Kannste Kanzleramt? Baerbock, Laschet und Scholz zurück in die Schule (Facing the Classroom): A political program that has never been seen on German television before and that the audience enjoyed very much. It was also just one of our formats treating the German federal elections. For the first time, Redseven also produced one of three TV debates between the candidates for chancellor in 2021.

TV FORMATS: Tell me about the breadth of channels Redseven works with on productions, and what this breadth means for the company and the German TV landscape overall?
BENTHUES: As a subsidiary of ProSiebenSat.1 Group, we know the requirements of broadcasters and viewers particularly well. This makes us an indispensable partner for ProSiebenSat.1, and at the same time, we benefit enormously from being part of the group. ProSiebenSat.1 aims to focus even more on its own local content—and we can support the group in this in the best possible way. Entertainment plays a key role in ProSiebenSat.1’s strategy, and this is a great advantage for us as the ones who develop and produce the best entertainment content.

We also have a broad client base outside the ProSiebenSat.1 Group, which is constantly expanding: private clients or brands and almost all major German broadcasters and platforms—RTL II, RTL, VOX, Sky, ZDF, Disney and DMAX. We also produce for streaming providers such as Amazon Prime Video and German streaming provider RTL+, formerly known as TVNOW.

Our own client portfolio shows that the market is becoming increasingly fragmented due to the many providers. For broadcasters and platforms, this means they need even more unique content to strengthen their profile growth—and this is a great opportunity for us and all content creators! We can give broadcasters and platforms what they are looking for: Formats that inspire their audiences.

TV FORMATS: As you look at the year ahead, what trends do you see emerging in the way of entertainment production and format adaptation?
BENTHUES: We are facing a great demand for relevant, well-researched content that entertains and informs in equal ways. Therefore, Redseven has recently founded a journalism, documentary and reportage unit in addition to our entertainment and fiction divisions. Because just like our formats, we are happy to evolve and keep pace with our fast-changing industry.