Sovtelexport has been at the forefront of Russian content’s growth around the world, a trend that looks to continue with titles like The Terrible, Call Me Mother and The Optimists: Caribbean season.
Russian audiovisual content penetration keeps growing around the world and Sovtelexport has played a huge part of the phenomenon, being the distributor arm of Russia Television and Radio. In 2020, Sovteleport was able to double its annual profit, helping Russia to become a significant player on the global series market.
According to Julia Matyash, Head of Sovtelexport, among the key factors for the recent success of the company are the “better quality of the product, relevant genres (period dramas, dramas inspired by true events, film versions of the bestselling books) and vast multi-genre catalog.”
Matyash also agrees that the pandemic played a role and the distributor also did its part by optimizing the marketing strategy and taking full advantage of “20 years spent on the international market, brand strengthening, increased recognition, rise in foreign distributors and media companies’ loyalty”.
However, Matyash is quick to clarify that any success from Russian content is first and foremost due to the quality of the product itself. “Over the past few years, dramas produced in Russia acquired their own signature style that distinguishes them, in the eyes of the foreign media professionals, from other projects of the same genre,” explains the executive. “Among their stand-out features are a certain narrative pace, deep thought-through characters and, of course, the universal truths framed by the national tint. Thus, the final product results in being clear and relevant for the audience without losing its authenticity.”
“Visual imagery of our content improves every year. We can say it is on a par with the quality of projects produced by the largest world studios,” adds Matyash.
The genre that better represent these impressive productions highs is period -or costume- dramas, which have become a huge part of Sovetelexport catalogue, being responsible for the company breaking through in some important markets.
“Ekaterina opened Latin America for us sales-wise,” explains Matyash. “The series set the quality bar pretty high, but other costume dramas like Sophia, Anna Karenina, Godunov and now The Terrible maintain the bar on its level. This type of content became our hallmark. We often receive requests like ‘We want something like Ekaterina“.
The mentioned The Terrible, is a new period drama that follows the life of the most controversial and mysterious Russian ruler, Ivan IV, better-known as Ivan “The Terrible”.
On the drama side, The Blood Widow is a combination of a costume drama with a thriller. “The series sparked interest of Latin American distributors,” says Matyash. “Several companies are currently considering this title for purchasing.”
The drama offering is led by Call Me Mother, a love story set during the 1930’s repressions, and The Optimists: Caribbean Season, a spy drama that follows a Russian operative that falls in love with an American woman during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
“Our documentaries are highly demanded, like Held Captive by Rubbish and Wonders of Russia, as well as action feature films, like Kandahar or Two Legends”, adds the executive.
Another big factor positioning RTR’s offer as a powerhouse in the present and near future is that a lot of their titles are mini-series, an ideal content for the needs of the digital world. “Our catalogue is praised by industry professionals and we are currently considering commercial offers from a number of Latin American streaming platforms,” explains Matyash. “We have just started developing digital rights sales in the region; previously, we focused on selling them to the English-speaking countries, including Amazon Prime.
“Although the market format and marketing strategy have changed, our main working principles remained the same,” says the executive. “As before, Sovtelexport prioritizes high-quality of the content, fully personalized approach to each and every region, channel, platform, and marketing support of the partner during the launch phase.”