Streaming giants entering Turkish market changing production landscape

U.S.-based streaming giants Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and HBO Max have increased their investments in Turkey, signing contracts for new Turkish original series, Variety reported on Saturday.

Currently, the market leader appears to be Netflix with its estimated seven million subscribers and several highly-acclaimed series. However, Disney+ has been investing in Turkey “like there is no tomorrow”, Variety cited production company Inter Medya’s chief Ahmet Ziyalar as saying.

Disney+ is expected to launch its Turkish service in the summer, while Amazon’s Prime Video will be releasing Turkish original series next year, according to Variety.

The streaming rush has pushed up production costs in the country, putting pressure on local producers who are not working with one of these giant platforms.

Warner Media brought in a veteran of Turkish television, former Kanal D and Ay Yapım executive Nermin Eroğlu, to handle production for HBO Max’s Turkish originals. Ay Yapım has churned out many successful series back-to-back in the Turkish market.

While the sudden increase in foreign interest has had its negative impacts, such as the pressure on production and distribution companies, the focus has also helped promote the value of Turkish storytelling, CEO of sales company Global Agency İzzet Pinto told Variety.

“Turkish drama is now a bigger brand than ever,” Pinto said.

The relative independence of streaming platforms from Turkey’s established media infrastructures has allowed experimental and more controversial works to be produced.

Netflix has achieved success with Fatma, the story of a working class woman’s descent into a serial killer, The Club, which shines a spotlight on the Jewish community in mid-century Istanbul, and The Gift, a fantastical drama that revolves around the ancient settlement of Göbeklitepe where the first known temple built by humans was discovered.

“We want to ensure that more people see their lives reflected in our stories,” Netflix’s original content director for Turkey Pelin Dıştaş told Variety.

The edgier, bolder stories undertaken by Netflix were “untold stories both local and international audiences could easily relate to”, she said.

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