Interview  | Can Okan, Founder and CEO of Inter Medya

 Interview  | Can Okan, Founder and CEO of Inter Medya

Can Okan, founder and CEO of Inter Medya, states that Türkiye is the world’s leading content exporter after the USA and the UK and that the interest in Turkish TV series is increasing worldwide.

Explaining that Inter Medya license Turkish content to 160 countries, Can Okan said that they see themselves not only as a content distributor but also as a promoter of Turkish culture to the world.

Evaluating the interest in Turkish TV series in different geographies such as Latin America and Asia, Okan stated that the miniseries also received positive feedback.

Can Okan noted that their content, which has attracted great interest recently, and informed us that they will go to MIPTV with a broad content catolog. He said that ongoing negotiations for co-productions will continue during MIPTV.

Since 1992, Inter Medya has been introducing Turkish content to the world for over 32 years. How and why do you think Turkish content has attracted so much attention in recent years? What are your insights?

The international journey of Turkish content, which started in Kazakhstan, has come to this day and is still growing. We have become a global-scale industry, we make a significant contribution to Türkiye’s economy. The sales we make add value to many sectors.

Today, as Inter Medya, we license Turkish content to 160 countries. This means that these 160 countries have been introduced to Turkish culture in one way or another. As we always emphasize, we do not see ourselves merely as distributors of Turkish content, but as promoters of Turkish culture to the world, and we conduct our business with an awareness of its importance and responsibility.

Beyond licensing Turkish content to many countries around the world, co-productions, in which we at Inter Medya are pioneers in Latin America and the U.S. Hispanic market, have entered our lives.

Co-productions are a significant testament to the global confidence in Turkish content. Co-productions and partnerships with global entertainment companies have helped create content with broader international appeal.

Content produced in our country for direct airing abroad also makes a significant contribution to our industry and proves Türkiye’s superior production skill and appeal. Local remakes are also a huge success for us. Turkish content blends different cultures, offering very rich content. By blending modern and traditional elements, the Turkish series realistically addresses all human emotions and universal themes.

They feature storytelling with real emotions in real locations, and characters are developed in depth. This storytelling style allows viewers to form deep connections with the characters and become invested in their journeys over many episodes.

Inter Medya actively participates in numerous content markets throughout the year. Can you summarize your company’s work in the 2023 markets?

In 2023, we participated in numerous regional and global markets. Almost every month, we were present in 1, and sometimes even 2-3 markets. During these markets, we had the opportunity to meet with our existing customers as well as to meet new and potential customers, thus expanding our network.

We followed a busy market schedule that started in Miami in January 2023, throughout the year we launched new series’, announced our co-productions, and held special screenings. Even though digital communication, which has become more frequent in our lives with the pandemic, provides convenience, we believe that face-to-face meetings and sharing the same environment together are much more valuable and productive. After gaining this experience, we also make an effort to create opportunities to meet with our customers whom we cannot meet at markets, either by visiting them in their offices or by inviting them to our office in Istanbul. We are continuing the busy schedule we followed in 2023 into 2024. In January 2024, in Miami, we announced the first project of the co-production agreement with Chile’s Mega Global Entertainment.

We had a very busy market schedule in February and March as well. We will continue with MIPTV in April.

Inter Medya is one of the first companies to sell TV series to South America. The company is also actively participating in key regional events like MIP Cancun and Content Americas. You are one of the companies that have been working effectively in the region for a long time. Given your experience, what are your expectations and observations for the near future of Turkish TV series in South America?

Turkish content has truly become a phenomenon in Latin America. We have very close relationships, with customers, and partners in Latin America. We enjoy following the success of Turkish content here and are very happy to be a part of this success. The popularity of Turkish content in this region has been continuing without a decrease for a long time. We can say that there is no place left in Latin America where Turkish content is not aired. This phenomenon has spurred interest in Turkish culture and led to increased collaborations between Türkiye and Latin America.

Inter Medya

Here, not only is Turkish content widely watched and increases the ratings of the channels they are broadcast on, but now there are Turkish series produced directly for broadcast in Latin America. We are sure that these partnerships will increase over time and that the Turkish series wind in Latin America will not decrease anytime soon.

How is your work in the Asian region going as Inter Medya? Additionally, what observations have you made about this market?

Asia is a vast region that still harbors significant potential. We believe that Turkish dramas possess strong attributes that are particularly appealing to this region, making Türkiye the premier choice for content acquisition among non-Asian countries. In this regard, we are undertaking numerous initiatives to showcase the international allure and success of Turkish content to the region.

Furthermore, we are making the necessary marketing investments to promote the content in our catalog, aiming to reach new areas and customers in Asia by participating in both small and large-scale markets throughout the region. We hope to license more drama series, especially in Southeast Asia, where there is a rapidly growing demand for such series.

This year, we noticed an increasing interest from India, where we have licensed both long-running dramas and mini-series. There is a growing appetite for mini-series, which have already been licensed to VOD platforms in Asia. India, Thailand, Taiwan, and Vietnam are among the countries with the highest acquisition rates.

In the Asian region, besides classical dramas, projects dealing with themes such as action, war, and crime, as well as period pieces, are receiving a lot of attention. Our mini-series have also successfully met the region’s demand for edgy and bold content, and we have seen this positively reflect on our sales.

At recent exhibitions you participated in, which specific Turkish content within your portfolio garnered significant attention and sales?

The answer to this question varies from market to market and region to region. However, if we were to summarize the general trends, among the content that has recently gained momentum in sales at the markets we have attended are series like Deception, Poison Ivy, Tuzak, The Girl of the Green Valley, Leylifer, and Last Summer. The Trusted, Scorpion, and Hicran are also receiving significant interest from our customers. Additionally, there has been a surge in the sales of our mini-series recently. Mini-series like Dreams and Realities, Naked, Interrupted, and Respect have found their place on global digital platforms. Moreover, we are currently in active negotiations for our mini-series such as The Ivy, and Hamlet.

inter medya deception

Inter Medya will take part in MIPTV, what will be your works related to MIPTV, what will be the content you will promote?

As Inter Medya, we will be participating in MIPTV. We hope that this market, in which we have participated for many years, will have developed further compared to the previous year and return to the dynamism of the period we refer to as pre-pandemic. Last year, it was a very good and busy fair. Our wish is for every market to become more dynamic each year. We are bringing a wide catalog with our new content to MIPTV. We will continue our ongoing dialogues for co-productions there.

Moreover, compared to last year, our mini-series catalog has significantly expanded. After launching our mini-series, The Ivy at MIPCOM 2023, we are bringing many successful mini-series for the first time to MIPTV 2024, including Like There is No Tomorrow, among many other successful new GAIN content. In addition to our mini-series catalog, we will also be bringing our new co-production, Love and Pride, added to our series catalog this season, to Cannes for the first time.

Like There is No Tomorrow

Can Okan: “There is an increasing demand for Turkish content worldwide.”

Inter Medya’s catalog includes TV series, miniseries, films, and formats. With the establishment of local platforms in Türkiye, more and more miniseries are being produced. What can you say about the international sales of miniseries, which are widely watched in Türkiye?

Yes, with the introduction of mini-series into our lives, many new things have entered our lives as well. Different things began to be experienced both in writing and on the production side. Similarly, working conditions became very different for actors. We do not think there is a situation where one is advantageous or disadvantageous over the other; we believe each has its own dynamics.

Mini-series also became an opportunity for us distributors to expand our customer portfolio and increase the sales of our content to both local and global platforms. Moreover, Turkish content broadcast on global digital platforms created an opportunity to meet audiences who had never watched Turkish content before.

Although the target audiences of digital platforms and Free TV channels are very different, the success of the content streamed on these platforms has started to spill over to FTV channels. In other words, we can say that Turkish content produced for digital platforms and broadcasted abroad has provided an opportunity to convince some viewers about Turkish content and open new doors for our content.

Interest in our mini-series has also started to increase from many different regions. While interest in our classical dramas increases day by day, our mini-series sales are also increasing day by day. Of course, we cannot yet say that this interest is as intense as it is for our classical dramas, but the journey of Turkish mini-series worldwide is developing and growing. It definitely has very high potential.

Classic Turkish dramas, and even though they may tell bolder stories through different means, they are nourished by Turkish dramas, carry Turkish DNA, and grow the legacy created by Turkish dramas worldwide successfully. They walk hand in hand with the classic-long-running Turkish series.

The New Generation Turkish Series, which are mini-series, is still in the early stages, brewing and still growing. They are becoming a part of and enhancing the worldwide success of Turkish content.

You also represent Turkish films that are very successful at the box office or widely watched on platforms. In which regions do Turkish films attract more attention? What do you think awaits Turkish films abroad in the years ahead?

In addition to our series and mini-series, we continuously have feature film sales. We have a broad movie catalog that we categorize into dramas, comedies, horror films, and arthouse movies. Turkish films, especially emotional films that contain elements of family and love, romantic comedies, war, and action movies, receive a lot of interest across the globe.

The success of our series also reflects in the international sales of our films. We participate in markets and festivals where there is a higher participation of movie buyers, aiming to highlight our feature film catalog.

What do you think the risks awaiting Turkish content in the coming period are? Additionally, we would appreciate if you could evaluate the competitors of Turkish content on the global stage.

Turkish content is one of a kind. They stand out and succeed in many areas, such as their stories, production quality, layered narratives, and the deep development of characters. I don’t think there is any country or industry that can be considered a rival in these aspects.

Currently, Türkiye is the world’s leading content exporter after the United States and the United Kingdom. There is an increasing demand for Turkish content worldwide. This success provides both great motivation and a significant responsibility for producers and distributors. I believe we have the responsibility to continue enhancing our country’s longstanding and growing success every day.

The company has distinguished itself from other agencies by actively participating in the production side of the content. Among your productions are series such as Behzat Ç., Respect 1, and Respect 2. Does Inter Medya have any plans to develop new content in the near future?

Yes, as Inter Medya, while we continue to advance ourselves in every aspect of distribution, we embarked on a production journey in 2019, motivated by the desire to create content for digital platforms and, in parallel, to increase such content in our distribution catalog. We produced successful projects that received very positive feedback. These series, in addition to their success on the platforms where they were broadcast in Türkiye, became the edgy, bold, and brave content in our catalog that also had sales abroad. Additionally, we have recently taken on the production of two new films. We are very excited to follow the broadcasting and international journey of Sayara and Comme Il Faut, both of which are bold examples of their genre. We have also completed filming the 8-episode mini series of Comme Il Faut, which will start streaming on GAIN soon.

As Inter Medya and as a producer, how do you approach processes such as co-production development, project development with partners from different countries? Do you have any new agreements or negotiations in this regard?

We’ve been putting extra effort into our co-production journey, starting with Latin America and the U.S. Hispanic market. These co-productions beautifully prove the point that Turkish content has reached. We had made attempts at co-productions before, but we found the right formula in 2022 when we signed the first co-production agreement between the U.S. Hispanic market and Türkiye with Telemundo Global Studios. This agreement brought to life its first two projects, Hicran and Blue Cage. We are continuing our preliminary work for new projects. Later, we implemented this model in Colombia with Caracol International, completing the production of the first project of this co-production agreement. Another co-production agreement in Latin America was made with MGE in Chile, and the filming of its first project, Love and Pride, is currently underway. We are making the necessary investments and efforts to expand this model to other countries. Very soon, we will be pioneering co-productions with many countries.

Love and Pride

What are your insights for the near future of Turkish content? Countries like Spain have also expressed that they view Türkiye as a competitor in terms of selling TV series worldwide. In what ways does Türkiye hold an advantage in this competition? Additionally, what measures do you believe should be taken in the sector to enhance its effectiveness?

The storm of Turkish content that began in the world 15 years ago continues to grow. Türkiye remains the first country the world turns to for content acquisition. In Spain, Turkish TV Series’ have become a phenomenon, and this success has leapt to Italy. Currently, Turkish series are among the most-watched content in Spain and Italy and are very much loved by audiences. Turkish series are at a very high level in terms of their stories and production values. Our series contain a lot of production effort, and this effort definitely reflects on the screen. The world cannot remain indifferent to this. We also witness very successful performances. Turkish actors have very large fan bases worldwide. Broadcasters abroad, of course, want to show their audiences these names they adore. The success of Turkish series has become legendary worldwide, with Turkish content appearing in the broadcast schedules of channels in over 160 countries. Turkish content not only makes it into the broadcast schedules but also breaks records to become the most-watched content of the channels. Despite the successful and globally known content from other countries, and although they are also watched, the first content that buyers always turn to is Turkish content.

*This interview has been featured in the MIPTV 2024 issue of Episode Magazine.


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