Turkish ‘TV series spring’ continues

Turkish ‘TV series spring’ continues

Aslı Öymen Cannes
Turkish ‘TV series spring’ continues

The TV series such as Dila Hanım, are expected to attract lots of viewers both natoanally and internationally. The series which are recently started feature famous actors and actresses from Turkish televisions.

Last week I was in Cannes, one of the most beautiful coastal towns in the south of France. We know Cannes for the Cannes Film Festival, and this festival now hosts Turkish actresses and actors walking on the red carpet, as well as Turkish directors awarded the Golden Palm or made jurors at the festival.

Along with the film festival, Cannes hosts many international events during the year. One of the most important of these is MIP, which is known as “the broadcasters’ fair.” Gathering twice a year, MIPCOM and MIPTV bring together all members of the sector: broadcasters, producers, media institutions, distributors and representatives of “new media” either try to sell their property as a vendor or seek “content” in the position of a buyer during a 5-day marathon. With my colleague Ozan Onat, I was there to find documentaries for my T.V. channel as a “buyer.” I was there to beat my rivals and find the best documentaries, as reporters do. But here I don’t want to talk about how I searched for documentaries, I would like to talk about the Turks at MIPCOM.

Turks are everywhere

As a Turkish person, I must admit that the first thing that attracted my attention and made me feel proud were the huge billboards and banners of various Turkish T.V. series that I encountered in the fair area, on the streets, and in cafes. The English translations of our T.V. series’ attracted me the most in those banners: Time Goes by (Öyle Bir Geçer Zaman ki), Magnificent Century (Muhteşem Yüzyıl), Fatmagül (Fatmagül’ün Suçu ne?), Fallen Angel (Kötü Yol), My Partner Knows (Ben Bilmem Eşim Bilir).

However, Kuzey Güney, literally meaning North and South, was not translated and was instead left as it is in Turkish.
Until a few years ago, no Turkish television station stands could be found at MIP apart from the official Turkish Radio and Television (TRT), let alone billboards and banners. Things have changed in a very short time. This year there were five Turkish T.V. channels with stands in the fair: TRT, Kanal D, Show T.V., Star, and ATV. Along with those, various independent production and distribution companies were represented. While the distributors were actively pushing sales during the daytime, they organized cool parties at nights, which were very popular.

‘Turkish series spring’

With its first attempt to expanding abroad coming with “Gümüş” in 2007, Turkish T.V. series first invaded the screens of the Arab world. Today, about 150 Turkish series’ are being exported to 73 countries across Asia, Europe and Africa. Sales of these are estimated to reach 100 million dollars annually, from just 1 million dollars in 2007.

After last week’s MIPCOM journey, Turks are sure to expand their sphere of influence even more. This year, our series also attracted the attention of the Far East, with demands coming from Korea and China. American company NBC Universal bought the format rights of “Aşk-ı Memnu” in order to distribute it to Latin America, which was once the most prominent series exporter.

We also set one of the best examples of format rights and adaptation with “Umutsuz Ev Kadınları,” Kanal D’s adaptation of internationally-known American series Desperate Housewives. This was a successful adaptation that corresponded to the taste of Turkish audience.

Currently, Turkish series are being sold abroad for amounts between 5,000 and 125,000 dollars per episode. This means that “an expensive series” with 100 episodes costs 12.5 million dollars for a foreign broadcaster. On the other hand, format prices are considerably low. The format price for one episode is generally between 5,000 and 10,000 dollars.

Best thing that has happened to series

One of the lectures in MIPCOM was on Turkish T.V. series, titled “Turkish drama: the new delight.”

Kanal D’s editor-in-chief Pelin Diztaş, Global Agency’s CEO İzzet Pinto, the head of Ay Production Kerem Çatay, United Arab Emirates-based GM Productions’ head Fadi İsmail, and Lebanon K Partners’ distributor Nabil Kazan all attended the lecture.

During the lecture, the subject of the price of Turkish series’ came up, and İsmail and Kazan complained about the increasing prices. During his speech, Fadi İsmail said: “Turkish series’ are the best thing that has happened to Arab series,’ and the Arabs will learn to make their own series soon.” He warned that this would endanger the future of Turkish T.V. series’ in Arab countries, but this was not accepted by other attendants. Pelin Diztaş argued that making series’ could be learned, but finding and writing a plot was the most difficult part. “This is very abundant in our geography. Turkey is a country with abundant traumatic material, with a rich geography and a significant emotional dimension,” she said. As can be seen in the Desperate Housewives example, those learning to make T.V. series will shoot their own series with plots they have bought. I don’t know how long the learning process will last for, but when the localization trend is used it will become unavoidable for series to be framed in a certain format.

Great organization

MIPCOM was held at the Palais des Festivals, which also hosts the Cannes Film Festival. The “Palais” has a 23,000 square meter area and even had a red carpet at MIPCOM, just like at the film festival.

This year, 12,600 attendants, 1,700 content providers, and 4,300 buyers from 102 countries attended MIPCOM. World-renowned keynote speakers gave interesting and stimulating lectures, and various meetings, screenings, and contests were organized.

The future of broadcasting was also discussed at the event. 3D technology, digital consuming, online content, audience shifts and global production trends were among the main topics of discussion.