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Arab world remains biggest market for Turkish TV series

ANKARA: Turkish drama series “Kara Sevda” (Endless Love) won Best Telenovela at the 45th International Emmy Awards on Tuesday.
The series, produced by Ay Yapım, has become the first ever Turkish production to win the prestigious award. The TV series has also been dubbed into many languages, including Italian, Persian, Spanish, and Arabic.
The 74-episode series premiered in October 2015 and ran until June 2017. It was broadcast in more than 60 countries.
The latest figures announced by Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmus about his country’s movie and TV industry confirm its continued global reach, especially among Arab audiences.
He told Parliament’s Planning and Budget Committee that Turkey ranks second in TV series exports after the US, and first in Europe. The Arab world remains the biggest market.
Turkish dramas command audiences of more than 250 million people. About 85 million people in the Arab world watched the final episode of the series “Silver.”
Izzet Pinto, who runs Global Agency, which sells the rights of Turkish series abroad, said they are popular among Arabs because of cultural similarities.
“Turkish soap operas reached their popularity peak with ‘Magnificent Century’ (about the Ottoman Empire), which created its own market in which Arab fans bought Ottoman costumes and organized Ottoman-themed family parties,” Pinto told Arab News.
Global Agency recently sold to the Arab world the rights to “Broken Pieces,” and Pinto said this will be followed by “Mother,” “Istanbul Bride” and “Full Moon.”
Senem B. Cevik, a lecturer at the University of California and an expert in public diplomacy and political communication, told Arab News: “Given the number of series exported across the globe and their audience reach, they’re the most visible and significant cultural tools for promoting Turkey.”
She added: “So far, the industry has achieved global success without any support from state resources. The success of drama series is therefore a missed opportunity for Turkey to really take advantage of. They’re successful on their own, but aren’t successfully integrated yet as part and parcel of Turkey’s promotion.”
Turkish series have increased income generated from tourism, as fans are interested in seeing firsthand where their favorite series are filmed. “The main points that appealed to me were the production, costumes, makeup, acting and directing,” Nevine Helal, an Egyptian fan of the series “Magnificent Century,” told Arab News. “It made me feel like I wanted to live in this era.”