Calinos is a pioneer in marketing Turkish dramas abroad
Photo: Slawomira Kozieniec
in: Disbook #4 March 2014
Turkish actress Songül Öden has recently been chosen as the Best Turkish Actress in the category “Queen of Drama” in the Middle East. She won the title in January 2014 with votes from Arabic viewers in a poll of the Middle Eastern channel MBC. It proves that she is still very popular in the Balkans and Middle Eastern countries for her role in the Turkish melodrama ‘Noor’ (2005 to 2007) in which she starred as a simple young woman “Gümüş” who marries into a wealthy family.
It became a dizzying pop-cultural phenomenon and most people presume that ‘Noor’ was the first Turkish TV series that was sold abroad. “It wasn’t”, says Asli Serim, International Sales Director of distributing company Calinos in Istanbul. “The first Turkish drama series sold abroad by us was ‘Deliyurek (Wild Heart) in 2001 to Kazakhstan. We were the pioneers in marketing Turkish dramas to the international market”.
Since then Calinos has expanded the territories which it covers and extended the number of series in its catalog. Up until now Calinos has succeeded in exporting to 50 different countries, more than 80 different series which makes more than 40.000 hours of TV series and programs. Series such as “Aşk-ı Memnu” (Forbidden Love), “Yaprak Dökümü” (Falling Leaves), “Gümüş” (Noor), “Adını Feriha Koydum” (Girl Named Feriha) “Kurtlar Vadisi” (The Valley of the Wolves) are amongst the most popular series. “The Girl Named Feriha” and “Conquest 1453” were Calinos’ hit programs in 2013.
“Love stories, dramas and family oriented series sell best abroad. Comedy and action series don’t work so well in international markets”, says Asli Serim. Recognized and beloved Turkish actors and actresses abroad also taken into consideration by Calinos to select the series they want to try to sell.
Turkish Series tell stories of real life and real people. Audiences can relate to the characters and incidents in the series. Viewers connect to the stories which are believable and resemble their own lives in some ways. Serim: “If a production has a universal, believable, solid story, it is very likely to get successful domestically and also internationally.”
The main clients of Calinos are television channels from the Balkans, the Middle East and the former Soviet Republics. The main differences between the different regions are related to culture and religion. “We work with so many different countries”, says Serim. “The culture of Vietnam is quite different than the one in Albania, but the audiences in both countries like to watch Turkish drama series.”
Most of the countries that Calinos covers are in the same process. Almost everywhere American soap operas used to be most popular. Right now, it is the time for Turkish series, Serim stresses. “However, we are aware that this is temporary as well. Turkish dramas will be replaced with something else. We see that TV channels which we work with started their own productions. Local productions will always be closer to the audience.”
There is another problem as well. Turkish authorities changed the demographics of the rating system. It shifted more to rural audiences. This change caused problems even for the high, well made productions. “If this system is not changed soon, we will face a major problem”, the International Sales Director says. “High end, well made productions in urban settings start to fall in ratings one by one and TV channels start to end these series after a short period of time. Because of this, soon we won’ be able to compete with other productions in international markets any more”.
Calinos has several new projects in the pipeline. They have just signed a contract with Show TV in Turkey to distribute their productions. Besides this the company is currently producing a new series for Show TV called ‘Hidden Lies’.