Kanal D: “The Market Will Evolve in a Different Direction”

Kerim Emrah Turna, executive director of Kanal D International, spoke to ttvnews about how he believes the TV industry will evolve following the Covid-19 pandemic, the company’s relationship with Latin America and its promising future with Spain.

A few weeks ahead of the start of the most challenging edition of Mipcom, the TV industry’s biggest annual market, Kerim Emrah Turna, Executive Director of Kanal D International, spoke to ttvnews about his expectations for the one-of-a-kind market and his outlook on Turkish content’s current popularity in key markets.

In a previous interview back in May, you told us Q1 2020 had been amazing for Kanal D. What about Q2?

Yes, as I said back then, Q1 was amazing for us. Actually, we were able to reach our targets easier than we thought.

Especially after we had the Covid-19 in our lives, we tried to analyze what was going on globally. And I guess we had a great success in that regard. We were able to understand the needs of our clients. We were able to respond very quickly in order to feed those needs. And thanks to our open communication with our clients, we have evolved the organization into a new era.

So in the second quarter, I was imagining a decreased demand due to broadcasters’ need to figure out the situation, whether they would be able to produce or not, whether they would be able to keep advertisement on their screens, and so on. But in spite of the all those problems, they continued demanding content, both in means of finished content, formats sales, and of course our own brand Kanal D Drama.

What are your plans for this unique Mipcom edition? Are you going to participate in Mipcom Online+?

Yes, we will be attending Mipcom Online+ and thanks to the great know-how that Reed Midem has, I guess this will probably be the most successful online market. Since March, most of the market and exhibition companies were switching to online markets, but unfortunately, not everyone was so successful. I hope that Mipcom Online+ will be successful.

I have seen some small examples of what the tool will look like, and from what I have seen so far, it will be better than all the other online markets that I’ve seen so far. Therefore, my expectation is very high for Mipcom Online+. I also believe that this will allow us to have more meetings with our clients and access them easier. So it will be more efficient for us, and I hope that it will be also more efficient for the buyers.

Therefore, I believe it will also affect the future of physical markets. Because if this is efficient and successful, things will evolve in a different direction. But, of course, I totally believe in face to face physical meetings.

What do you mean by a “different direction”? Do you think there will be fewer markets?

Yes, I do. Globally, there are a lot of markets, a lot more than needed. But somehow, the market conditions force you to be there, to attend all of them, not always with the best outcome in terms of investment. So therefore, I guess it will be affecting our financial side on an efficient way. If this Mipcom Online+ edition is successful, it will be affecting us positively.

Which titles will Kanal D be presenting at Mipcom?

As you know, we’re not only a distribution company. Kanal D International is the global business arm of a huge media company. Therefore, we represent not only Kanal D, but also other brands like, for example, CNN Turkey or teve2, which is our sister channel, and our production companies as well. So we have a very broad catalog.

I guess we are one of the luckiest distribution companies from Turkey. Since we are feeding our channel, we are getting a lot of new titles for our distribution company.

New Life is one of them. This is one of our precious drama titles. It is very exciting for us. We have already aired two episodes so far. I’m really excited about this title. It has a lot of drama elements in the story, it’s a brilliant title.

Hekimoğlu is the title that we launched the previous season and now we are airing the second season. It is also a very exciting story and exciting title, which is a remake of Dr House.

And one of the new titles that we have launched during the summer season, which was very hard because we started production during Covid-19, is Romance Next Door. It is a romantic comedy.

And in addition to those fresh titles, we will have other new titles in the upcoming period. In addition to that, we also have a huge, huge library that we already have distributed all over the world.

Is Latin America still a fruitful market for you? Are there any signs of saturation?

I guess we have to analyze and read the big picture very carefully. Before Covid-19 came, we were expecting a financial global crisis in 2020, but Covid-19 erased that and now we have a new agenda.

So: expected financial crisis, Covid-19, the shift from linear television to nonlinear viewership… there is even a decrease in production costs in terms of technology, but an increase in production costs in terms of fees that you pay actors and actresses. So all those factors have a lot of influence in the industry.

We have built a great relationship with Latin American audiences. I believe that they don’t see Turkish drama as a foreign production. It comes from somewhere they are familiar with and we understand each other very well. We have the same problems: sociological problems, financial problems, and family is extremely important for both cultures. Therefore, I believe that the demand will be there, it will still exist.

Of course there will be a shift to digital, but not now, because both in Turkey and in Latin America, if we talk about the core drama content consumer, the telenovela consumer, it’s different. It’s different from the viewers that are watching dramas on OTTs like Netflix or Amazon. I also personally consume a lot of that type of content. But when I watch Turkish dramas, it’s different. It’s more real-life content, while OTT content is more of a fantasy.

What do streaming platforms represent in your distribution business nowadays?

Especially in Asia, streaming platforms are growing like crazy. And there is a huge demand from Asia for content from streaming platforms. This is a transition time from linear to nonlinear. But of course, the transition will be limited. I mean, not all audiences will shift from one day to another to nonlinear platforms. Plus, it will be impossible for someone to have multiple platforms. You might have the ability to pay for 5 or 6 different platforms, but there is no time to be able to watch all of them simultaneously.

So therefore, a small number of platforms will survive. And most of them will still try to get the attention from the conventional TV audience. Due to this, I believe that the streaming platforms will still show interest in our drama.

So, it’s not so much that you have to adapt to the platforms by producing short premium drama, but that maybe they will have to adapt to you, because the audience will still demand traditional drama. Absolutely. We all have to adapt to what audiences want. Of course content is still king. But audiences are also king, because they are the ones who are deciding what we should produce.

Spain is a market that’s opened its doors to Turkish content. Kanal D International was a pioneer with Fatmagul. Now, almost three years later, what does Spain mean for your strategy?

Spain is really important for us. It’s not the first European country that has acquired Turkish content, but it is the first European country that has acquired a huge volume of Turkish content, and I’m really proud of being a part of this success.

I guess we have built a similar synergy with the Spanish audience. I believe that this will continue, because we’re talking on a daily basis with our clients from Spain and most probably, this success will lead us to provide our content to alternative platforms in Spain as well.

Because what is different in Spain in comparison to most of the conventional markets is that in Spain we distribute content in volumes. And Spain is not an emerging market, it’s a mature market in means of economy. In the United States we are also licensing a lot of content to the main channels, but they are Hispanic channels, meaning they don’t represent the main market. Of course the market that we’re talking about is enormous, but in comparison to this success in Spain, it’s different. Spain presents the only mature market in our content distribution.

An other example from Spain is that, in the whole of its viewership, there is also a huge percentage of young people. So this is also something that also encourages us and I think we will be seeing a good success in the upcoming future as well.

You will distribute Alba, the Spanish adaptation of Fatmagül. What does this mean to your company?

Fatmagül was the first Turkish title ever that was aired in Spain, and we really pushed this title to the Spanish networks. And I’m also extremely happy that we were able to collaborate with Atresmedia in the remake of Fatmagül, Alba. It’s very exciting for me, even personally, that we will be distributing Alba globally.