With new territories under its belt, including Russia, and a powerful catalogue that combines returning titles –like For My Family and The Ottoman-, with new shows –like Between Us, Wounded Heart and Destan– ATV Distribution arrives in Cannes with high expectations.

Few companies faced the trials of the pandemic as well as ATV Distribution, which quickly rose to the challenge by empowering the digital side of its business, both by keeping their clients updated with online presentations of its newest titles and by engaging with the booming trend of digital platforms.

These strategies meant that the Turkish company was able to close new deals for its catalogue, highlighted by titles like Hercai, The Ottoman and For My Family, while also reopening territories in Asia and conquering new ones, like Russia.

“Honestly speaking, 2020 was a bit slower compared to the previous years, because of the Covid-19 situation, with pauses in the productions and the slowdown of many markets, which was reasonable,” explains Müge Akar, Sales Deputy Manager for Europe, Asia and CIS at ATV Distribution.

“In 2021 we see a huge increase, both in new markets and also production-wise; we have a boom in production right now in Turkey, particularly in ATV. We have launched many products and entered new territories as well. I think the future is bright, and 2021 is a lot better than the previous year.”

With the world starting to resemble the one before the pandemic, ATV will travel to Mipcom 2021 to showcase the new additions to its growing catalogue, with titles like Between Us and Wounded Heart, the historical drama Destan and the new seasons of For My Family and The Ottoman.

Even in these challenging times, ATV has been able to enter new territories. Can you share how your business has expanded during the last couple of years?

Some new territories came from Asia, like Indonesia and Pakistan. Hercai was starting in Indonesia, it meant the return of Turkish dramas series to the country after a very long time, and the series did a great job, as it has done in many other territories. It was a big success for the Indonesian channel and, just right after Hercai, they also picked up The Ottoman, our high-budget period drama, which they are airing right now. We believe we re-opened up this market and it will probably be followed by many other shows. Pakistan was also kind of new for us. We had previous sales there, back in time, and they have come back as buyers. In that sense, it’s a very similar situation to Indonesia’s. In Pakistan we are working with two different channels there. They have picked up The Ottoman and Hercai. We also entered Africa. We were working there and we have managed to enter in Tanzania, Kenya and many other territories. So far it’s going quite well.

What about Russia?

We have also entered Russia, which is a completely new territory for us. Russia was important, because it is a huge and very relevant market. We entered via the digital platforms. We usually go through the Free TVs, but this time we started working with digital platforms. They are having a big boom in their market and they wanted to offer some new content to their audiences and we were able to sell three titles: For My Family, Hercai and The Ottoman. I think we will be announcing new sales for Russia in the upcoming days.

With digital platforms booming, do you expect them to occupy a bigger role in your business in the future?

It will be a shifting process for us. In the past, we were working only with Free TVs, and then we added pay TVs. Then came OTTs and now digital platforms are really booming everywhere on the world. I think from now on, in the near future, we will see 60% of Free TV clients and 40% of digital platforms. I believe this will be the case for the next few years. Our clients will start to change, but we will be supplying Turkish series no matter the platform.

Hercai has been a highlight during 2020-2021. How many territories have picked up the title?

We launched Hercai and sold it to Romania, the first country to pick it up. After that started a domino effect all over the world: from Europe to the Balkans, to Asia, to LatAm, to the US and Africa as well. It has been a crazy year for us with Hercai. We have sold it to more than 70 countries. We have deals almost everywhere and it has been a huge success wherever it has aired; the ratings were always on the top and has been the leading series in every territory it has been broadcasted. Hercai has been a big success story for us and we hope to follow it with our upcoming shows.

What about The Ottoman?

The Ottoman filled a gap in our catalogue: we didn’t have any period historical dramas, and The Ottoman was a big hit and fulfilled that need. There are countries that are specifically looking for this kind of dramas and now we have the opportunity to offer it to them. We have closed many deals for The Ottoman, some of them I cannot disclose at the moment. And we are producing season 3 on Turkey, which is incredible, because nowadays not every show lasts more than one season.

Have the pandemic translated in a bigger interest in your library titles?

We have closed some deals for our library series. Don’t Leave Me travelled to Bulgaria and some other few countries as well. Don’t Leave Me also fulfilled a gap in our library, because we didn’t have a day time series before. It’s good for us to offer a more diverse catalogue to our clients.

What are your most important tiles for Mipcom 2021?

There is For My Family, which is returning for a second season. We have Wounded Heart, which started in the summer season, but it was a quite success so we have carried it into the main season and now is the leading series on Monday. We are very happy with that. We also have Between Us, an adaptation from Korea that we are presenting at Mipcom. In October we will have a new period drama, called Destan. We will using the Turkish title for the series. This will be a big product launch for us because is a big budget series, with the great costumes, great locations and, of course, a great storyline. On top of that, it has the same leading actor from Hercai, Ebru Şahin.

How are the series faring locally?

For My Family is the leading prime time series on Saturdays and Wounded Heart is the leading prime time series on Mondays. Both are getting very high results and are the number one shows in the most competitive slot. Between Us is also getting good ratings. As an adaption, is a new style of series, a bit different from others, but we are also happy with that one too.

What entails adapting a Korean drama for Turkish –and internationally- audiences?

We are using the scripts and the main storyline, but, as you know, Turkish series are longer than any other series, maybe in the whole world, so we are making a very long version of the series, adding up some subplots, new characters… The starting point of the series is the same, but we have to adapt it to the Turkish culture and the Turkish audience.

Are you preparing digital presentations after your experiences during 2020-2021?

During the pandemic we started a series called A-Talks. The first one was made for The Ottoman, when we were launching the series. That was our first digital presentation. We followed it with another for the series For My Family, which we did it with Natpe V-Fronts, and that was a huge success. This year we chose to be at Mipcom in person, but we will meet digitally with the clients who cannot travel. We are planning new A-Talks for the upcoming series.