One billion viewers. Not one less. This is the astonishing number of people who have watched at least one episode of Commissario Montalbano, the most popular of Italian TV detectives, since its first screening on Rai May 6 1999.
The first three series were broadcast on the second channel, whereas since 2002 it has been aired on Rai 1. Today, each episode costs approximately 3 million euros, roughly as much as a good cinema movie, and has five commercial breaks secured months before its making.
Still after a long time, the success of the Inspector played by Luca Zingaretti has never faded, with most recent episodes recording new audience records, up to 44.1% share with Come voleva la prassi, the episode of last 6 March which kept 11, 268,00 viewers in front of the screen.
Scores on re-runs are also amazing, with a 30% share on average, the same of a football match of the national team, with each episode broadcast prime time at least eight times.
So far thirty new titles have been produced by Palomar of Carlo Degli Esposti in a twenty-year period, for which Rai spent between 70 and 80 million euros with a contact cost of 0.07 euros against 2.16 of average audience cost for long series and 2.91 for short series (data on 2015-2016).
It is less easy to calculate benefits deriving from the allied activities, that is to say the impact on the territory, since the success of the inspector from Vigata, created by Andrea Camilleri, has an international dimension involving eighty countries, with more and more persistent requests for co-production.
Very good signals come from the Ragusa province, where the series was shot: the tourist appeal has tripled, and a new deal has been closed by Ryanair with the Comiso airport to secure its slots and a stable connection with British travellers. The new episodes will be filmed toward the end of the month and will be broadcast next year on Raiuno, with a production plan already set until 2021.