This story came to my mind a few hours after the volleyball world championship finals, when I looked at the excel sheet with weekend viewership results. Previous matches were impressive, but Game of Thrones overshadowed everything. Almost 4 million viewers watched the final on TVP 1, well over a million on TVP Sport, and less than half a million on our website and mobile application.
Polsat Sport viewers added one and a half “bubble”. I am talking about average viewership, i.e. every minute of the broadcast. Not temporary “peaks”, much higher of course. 7 million people, almost half of those Poles who turned on TV on Sunday evening (the so-called “audience share”), supported the Biało-Czerwony. Completely extraordinary figures nowadays, reserved for the best series.
Yes, it’s true – Adam Małysz, who won the first Olympic medal in Salt Lake City, was followed by 13 million pairs of eyes. But – firstly – it was also a series, beloved by Poles “M jak Małysz”, and secondly – completely different times. 2002, or how quickly I checked – two years before Facebook, three years before YouTube, eight years before Instagram, and finally 14 years before Netflix’s debut. When the largest Polish printed dailies sold almost half a million – not 50,000 – a day. as now – copies. When there was one TV set in the average home and few visionaries dreamed of watching broadcasts on the Internet.
There is no need to juxtapose these two worlds – small noise was a phenomenon that will not happen again on this scale, because the heroes can be chosen according to their color.
The volleyball soap opera continues after all. Uses the best serial patterns. Whoever has been to a few matches of the national team in Poland, in various cities and arenas, knows it perfectly well. During the year, I had the opportunity to watch the staff up close in Krakow, Katowice and Gdańsk. The scenario is always the same.
The heroes appear in the warm-up with a strong note, often Metallica. Then the bellwether checks if the gentlemen or the ladies are cheering louder. Just before the game, there is an a capella hymn, sung by the fans painted in white and red colors. The rhythm of field events is reproduced with constant melodies. When the stands and the volleyball players need to be shot, the loudspeakers will send the hit “Maria” by the Scooter band, when the situation looks hopeless, “Song of the Little Knight” comes in. And “last, last!” shouted by thousands of throats before the closing balls of a hundred.
During the breaks, the Eagle and the animators run in, launching gadgets at the stands. Only the sporting course of each episode and the disposition of the main actors could surprise, only this is a variable. End of the match, thanks to the best fans in the world and the team goes to the hotel to rest before the next concert. And the fans go home to calm down their generally troubled hearts. Repetitive for pain, but we love such series.
Screenwriters have changed over the last few years. The best in the world came to us. But the cast – the audience’s favorites – remained the same. It was like in “Father Matthew”. Even if someone had an idea to replace Father Michał, he did not dare to move him (please do not take it as a criticism of Captain Kubiak, he was in fact the heart of this representation for years). Director Fabian seemed indispensable too, and there was always a Silent Pit under the net. Symbols.
This year, however, the main screenwriter has strayed from the easy and obvious path. Partly because he had to, but most of all – he wanted to. I believe that finally. Finally someone ventured out and started building new heroes. Boldly and consistently defending them after less successful performances. It’s a process. Must go on. The audience is distrustful at the beginning, after each worse episode they might have thought “it used to be”. However, Nikola Grbic’s production grew with each passing month. Playing in the finals of the world championship and the viewership of decisive matches – higher every day – are the best proofs that the new one has caught on.
And it got interested. The non-obvious punch line – the lost final of the world championship with the brilliant Italian generation – makes me wait for the next season with baking. And another one, the one that is to be shot in Paris. Only then will we assess how these volleyball revolutions have turned out.