Among the many content providers marketing their product at the 2014 DISCOP
Africa conference in Johannesburg was the Turkish company Kanal D. Having found
a receptive market for its content in a wide range of foreign territories, the
company is now actively looking for new opportunities in Africa. Sales and
acquisitions executive Amaç Us spoke to Screen Africa about their offering.
SCREEN AFRICA: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE APPEAL OF TURKISH CONTENT TO
AN INTERNATIONAL MARKET? WHICH TERRITORIES HAVE LICENSED KANAL D
CONTENT UP TO THIS POINT AND WHAT HAS BEEN THE MAIN DRIVER BEHIND THE
PURCHASE OF THE CONTENT IN THOSE TERRITORIES?
AMAÇ US: Amaç Us: Kanal D has achieved great success as a content provider.
After the success of the Turkish series, first in Central Asia, and later on in the
Middle East and North Africa, Kanal D has expanded to new territories such as CEE,
Western Europe, Latin America and the Far East. It has played an important role in
the popularity of Turkish series around the world. Until today, we have licensed our
series to nearly 90 different countries. They were mostly broadcast in prime-time
slots, attracting large audiences.
Our producers and scriptwriters know how to put together an appealing show which
connects with the audience. All our series have great stories and strong characters.
Once you have both of these ingredients, you will have your content travel around
the world no matter what language the storytelling is in. In our stories there are
pursuits of hope, clashing families, forbidden romances and platonic love stories,
conspiracies, betrayals… In short, all the universal elements of human life. The
series are shot in HD and internationally accepted high quality standards.
If we look from the audience’s perspective, our audiences abroad find our stories,
locations and cast appealing and intimate. They find our stories real and relevant to
their own life-stories. Viewers in those countries can relate themselves to the
majority of things they see in our shows and are inspired by these stories.
SCREEN AFRICA: WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN IN THE AFRICAN CONTENT MARKET(S)
THAT HAS DRAWN YOU TO START MARKETING YOUR CONTENT HERE?
AMAÇ US: The African TV industry is growing and developing quickly and there is
still plenty of room for growth. It will be a more competitive market after the
digital transition is fully completed. There will be more platforms and channels
launched. There will be more need for content and broadcasters will look for
content that will differentiate them from others. As Kanal D, we will cater to this
need, as we believe our series will perform great in the region.
SCREEN AFRICA: WHAT KIND OF CONTENT DOES YOUR OFFERING INCLUDE? IT
APPEARS THAT TELENOVELA-STYLE DRAMAS MAKE UP A LARGE PART OF YOUR
PACKAGE – WHAT ELSE DO YOU HAVE? DAILY DRAMA SERIES, WHETHER FROM
LATIN AMERICA OR INDIA, HAVE PROVEN VERY POPULAR IN AFRICAN MARKETS.
HOW DOES YOUR CONTENT COMPARE TO DRAMAS FROM THESE TERRITORIES?
AMAÇ US: Our catalogue mainly consists of drama series. However we also offer
comedy sitcoms, crime and investigation shows, action, bio-drama series, game
shows, lifestyle programmes, cooking shows and feature films. We also offer script
and format rights for most of our ready-made content. In addition to these
differences, technically, unlike the Latin telenovelas and Indian drama series, our
series’ episode duration is at least 90 minutes and they are shot in real locations.
This brings high production value.
SCREEN AFRICA: IN EXPLORING THE AFRICAN MARKET, WHICH REGIONS AND
COUNTRIES ARE YOU PARTICULARLY TARGETING AND WHY? WHICH HAVE PROVEN
TO BE MOST RECEPTIVE TO YOUR OFFERING?
AMAÇ US: We are targeting all sub-Saharan Africa with our content as we see
potential in all countries. As Kanal D, our strategy has always been to enter a new
territory with the right content with the right broadcaster at the right time and that
is what we intend to do in Africa as well. For the moment, English-speaking
territories seem to be the most receptive. We know for sure that once our series
start broadcasting in the region and prove their success, our series will become the
trend in the whole region just like they have been in most of the world like Middle
East and North Africa (MENA), Latin America (LATAM), Central and Eastern Europe
(CEE) and others.
SCREEN AFRICA: YOU HAVE ALREADY SIGNED DEALS WITH PAY AND FREE-TO-AIR
OPERATORS IN AFRICA. ARE YOU ABLE TO DISCUSS THOSE DEALS YET, TELL US
WHICH OPERATORS AND WHICH TERRITORIES YOU HAVE BEEN DEALING WITH?
AMAÇ US: We have some deals that are in the execution process and some under
negotiation. Once they are fully executed we would be happy to disclose the
information. However, I can tell you that soon our content will be available on one
of the most influential pay-TV platforms in Africa.
SCREEN AFRICA: WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR BIGGEST AND MOST POPULAR
Being the leading free-to-air entertainment TV channel in Turkey, we have the
highest rated content in our catalogue.
The highlights of our catalogue are our drama series. If we were to speak about the
most internationally successful ones, here are a few that I can name from our long
• Time Goes By
• Forbidden Love
• Leaf Cast
• Kuzey Guney
SCREEN AFRICA: WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED IN PRESENTING YOUR
CONTENT TO THE INTERNATIONAL MARKET AND HOW HAVE YOU OVERCOME THEM?
AMAÇ US: Technical difficulties have been the most important challenge for us.
When we first started licensing our content internationally in 2006, we did not have
M&E tracks for our series. In other words, if the broadcaster wanted to dub our
series, they could not, because the music and effect tracks were not separated. For
some of our series, back then, we did not even have scripts available.
Even though the content itself was great, we were not able to provide the licensors
with sufficient materials for them to work with. The main reason behind is that we
actually never thought that we would sell our content to another country and we
never had the need to have M&E tracks nor proper scripts. Today, we are a major
content distributor, and provide content with the most advanced technology.
For Africa, to be more specific, the major challenge we have faced and are still
facing is dubbing. African broadcasters ask for already dubbed content in languages
such as English and French. In order to cater to them, we need to have our Turkish
language content dubbed into these languages. This would force us to spend a large
amount of money, which would not be reasonable commercially. Even though the
African TV market is emerging fast, the paid licence fees are not at a level where
we can cover our dubbing costs.
African broadcasters are not willing to share the dubbing costs either because of
their budget. To overcome this challenge, we are trying to find different solutions.
Once we find the right business model, we will be able to offer more from our
SCREEN AFRICA: HOW ARE YOU PITCHING AND POSITIONING YOUR CONTENT
OFFERING TO MAKE IT ATTRACTIVE TO YOUR DESIGNATED AFRICAN MARKET(S)?
AMAÇ US: Besides all the above details I have mentioned, which explain how our
content differentiates from regional competitors, I would also add that our content
has proven internationally successful in many different parts of the world, which
makes our hand stronger.
Our content touches people’s hearts and creates a bond with them – they become
addictive. Most of our series are long running. Imagine a series with 120 episodes
of between 90 to 110 minutes each: most of the broadcasters prefer to broadcast in
commercial hours and split one Turkish length episode into two or three commercial
hours. So, the original 120 episodes become 240 to 360 episodes depending on the
duration of each episode. This makes the content a cost effective investment for the
broadcaster, which helps them fill their programming schedule with high quality
content for a long period of time at reasonable fees.
– Warren Holden