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Turkish soap operas total $50 million in exports

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News | 1/16/2011 12:00:00 AM |

Turkish television series exports were worth more than $50 million last year, with more than 70 programs watched in more than 20 countries.

Turkish television series exports were worth more than $50 million last year, with more than 70 programs watched in more than 20 countries, particularly in the Middle East, Balkans and Turkic language-speaking countries.

Exported productions include extremely domestically popular series such as “Aşk-ı Memnu,” “Ihlamurlar Altında,” “Ezel," "Gümüş,” and “Yaprak Dökümü,” and set new export records for Turkish television programs last year. 

The share of Turkish television series in the foreign programs category in the Middle East is around 60 percent, according to Fırat Gülgen, board chairman of Calinos Holding. “There are more than 300 television channels and they show a great interest and demand from Turkish series’,” Gülgen told Anatolia news agency. 

Calinos Holding’s distribution of content such as films and television series to domestic and international markets represents 80 percent of the country’s total television exports. 

The export price of an episode of the more popular Turkish shows used to vary between $30 and $50, Gülgen said. “The price of an episode of a series is now varying between $500 and $20,000. Turkish soap opera Ezel is now the most expensive.”

“Deli Yürek” (Wild Heart) was the first Turkish television series Calinos exported, in 2001, Gülgen said. “We exported Deli Yürek first to Kazakhstan. However, Binbir Gece, or Thousand and One Nights, another soap opera focusing on a Turkish love story, have beaten ratings records in many countries and generated growth in the market.”

Some countries such as Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan that share similarities with Turkish culture were the first countries to import Turkish series. “Sales to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are still ongoing,” Gülgen said. 

“After markets in the Middle East, we have opened to the Balkan countries,” Gülgen said. “Some 30 series are currently being exported to different Balkan countries. After Macedonia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania, we entered the Greek market last year and plan to enter the Ukrainian market in April this year.”

“In a sense, we export culture,” Gülgen said. “One of the most important factors in Turkish series’ popularity is Turkish culture. More than 300,000 tourists have visited the waterside house where the soap opera ‘Gümüş’ is shot, according to the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. These series have huge potential.”

Calinos is also currently working with a Qatari company on a project about the conquest of Istanbul, Gülgen said. “We will make a 30-episode series and have allocated $25 million for the project.”

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