The New Era of Kanal D International

Ekin Koyuncu, Kanal D International’s new executive director, spoke to ttvnews about her appointment, and the distributor’s new strategies and upcoming titles.

In late May of this year, Kanal D International announced Kerim Emrah Turna was stepping down from his role after 15 years as executive director. A few days later, the company announced Ekin Koyuncu would be his successor.

Working with the company for three years, Ekin Koyuncu was director of Sales for CEE, a role she will still hold along with that of director of Kanal D International.

She previously worked at Lifetime and acquired international content to sell in Turkey.

To find out more about her approach to this new challenge and what the Turkish company has in store, ttvnews spoke to Ekin Koyuncu.

Congratulations on your new role. What can you tell us about it?

We have an amazing team and it was a great pleasure working with Emrah. I’m really hoping that everything will work for the best for him. I’m really appreciative for this opportunity that arose. It’s really important for me having that kind of team with me. We are just picking up where we left off and continuing to do what we do the best: selling.

How will your leadership change the company’s strategy?

With Emrah we’ve been working very closely not only for my territories but for the marketing side. I’m right now working with different teams in order to create new strategies, digital strategies and also new strategies for the territories we want to open, like Asia. It’s not an unknown territory for us, but it is an unopened territory for us. So I’ve had some ideas for the territory for a long time now, and also for Russia, so we started working on those projects at the moment.

And also this was a difficult and different year for everyone with the pandemic, so the viewing habits are changing. The demand for the genres is changing. For example this year we see that there’s a lot of demand for romantic comedies from territories we never received, like Hungary. They were hard-core drama viewers and right now there is a demand for romantic comedies. We are changing our strategy towards the demand. Right now with the sales team and the marketing team we are working on different projects in order to reach those targets.

What role will territories like Latin America or Spain still play?

There are some territories of huge importance for us, like Latin America and Spain. Also the Middle East, which was a little bit silenced in the past 3 years but now is getting back. Our strategy will continue for Latin America and Spain.

You mentioned an increase in the demand for romantic comedies. Is this also noticeable in Latin America?

It’s not the case in Latin America. We do see the interest from Spain. But in Latin America we are seeing some interest for new genres. For example there was some prejudice against Miracle Doctor, aired on Kanal D and distributed by Madd, for being a medical drama and now it’s doing amazing in Latin America. And now we are closing some deals in the region for Hekimoulu. It’s an amazing title and in YouTube its getting a lot of views and that’s an amazing indicator. I think it will perform amazingly.

Do you plan to continue to pursue co-productions?

Our business is selling ready-made content but we also have amazing stories and we own IP rights of all of our content. And we would like to reach more territories with our stories in different languages. For example, we sold formats to India and we are always open to this, and to co produce in all territories. This last year was difficult for that with the pandemic but with the beginning of the markets hopefully our discussions will be back on the table. This kind of projects we need to be face to face, talking and creating together.

Do you have plans to attend Mipcom?

We really miss being at the markets and meeting with everyone. Reed Midem was a long-time partner for us so in order to support them, if the market its going to be live and the situation allows us to go, we really want to go. We expect a lower attendance compared to previous years, we are aware of that. But we want to be there and be with the people we miss. Also we would be presenting new titles, so it will be an exciting time for us.

Aside from Mipcom, will the strategy be to return to in-person events or more so digital ones?

Before the pandemic we where all discussing whether the attendance was decreasing on the markets, if they were effective enough, what their future might be like. But I think this last year and a half was a huge slap on the face for everyone. We joined most of the digital markets but to be honest they weren’t very effective to any of us, because we were already in contact with everyone, we were already talking online trough Zoom, Whatsapp, Facetime. Attendance was really low and they weren’t effective for us. And if this would continue, maybe we would decide not to attend any more.

So now we understand the importance of physical contact, meeting face to face. Our job is about feelings, this is how you sell or create projects. So yes, we want to attend physical markets again.

Which titles are you currently seeing the most demand for?

This year was different, because at the beginning I said there were a lot of budget cuts on localization and new acquisitions. So the demand increased drastically towards our library titles and we pushed Hekimolu a lot. It’s a great title and we are getting responses.

Also Ruthles City and Love trap, from last year. For Ruthless City, we signed deals in 35 territories and Love Trap is doing amazing too. Of course our classics like Fatmagul, Forbidden Love, Time goes By… the demand towards these titles was great this year.

And right now we are pushing two new titles: Recipe of Love and Twist of Fate. When we compare sales to 2020 the first half it looks like we did really well. We are really happy with the results. Once again the library got demand. I can say Hekimolu, Ruthles City, Love trap, Price of passion, Flames of Desire, and now Recipe of Love and Twist of Fate.

Two of those are romantic comedies, right?

Twist of Fate yes, exactly. It’s a classic romantic comedy like Love Trap or Sweet Revenge. But Recipe of Love its more a dramedy. Yes, it’s a romantic comedy, but it feels a little different from our classic romantic comedies.