For 45 years, the average German household gathers in front of the TV on Sunday evenings to watch “Tatort” (Crime Scene). The 965th episode, this time with investigators Batic and Leitmayr, mostly takes place at Munich’s Hellabrunn Zoo and was aired yesterday. Nearly 10 million people watched the episode yesterday on Germany’s ARD public TV, even though Adele was singing “Hello” live at the other German public TV channel (ZDF).
“Tatort” is jointly produced by regional public-service broadcasters whereby every regional station contributes a number of episodes to a common pool. Therefore, the series is a collection of different police stories where different police teams each solve crimes in their respective city. Uniqueness in architecture, customs and dialects of the cities is therefore a distinctive part of the series and often the city, not the police force is the real main character of an episode. The concept of local stations only producing a couple of shows per year has also enabled the shows to be longer (90 minutes) and more fleshed out psychologically than other weekly TV dramas.
The first episode was broadcast on November 29, 1970 and the series has been continuously on the air ever since. This makes it the longest-running TV-drama of Germany. Episodes are broadcast on ARD's main channel Das Erste on Sunday evening at the prime viewing time of 8.15 pm (just after the 8 o'clock news) somewhere between once and twice a month. Reruns are often shown by various regional ARD stations and on foreign broadcasters. Next to the member stations of the ARD, the National Austrian broadcasting corporation Österreichischer Rundfunk joined the production pool in 1971 and airs the program on its ORF 2 channel. Switzerland's Schweizer Fernsehen joined the pool from 1990 to 2001 and again in 2011 and distributes its episodes through its channel SRF 1.
The above is taken from Wikipedia, but it doesn’t quite show how popular and relevant the series has been for German TV and how much it is still discussed every week, especially by the pre-Internet generations. The American phrase “How ‘bout them Mets (or Yankees or another sports team)” or the British weather phrases, have a German equivalent in “Wie fandest du den Tatort?” (How did you like Tatort?). Many popular actors have played Tatort investigators (Christoph Waltz, Till Schweiger...).
You can watch the recent Munich Tatort episode here (every day from 8pm until 6am).