TV Drama caught up with Fredrik af Malmborg, the managing director of Eccho Rights, to hear about what’s driving the company’s business around the world.
With bases in Stockholm, Istanbul, Madrid, Seoul and Manila, Eccho Rights has emerged as a leading supplier of international drama series, having licensed more than 15,000 hours to clients worldwide in the last year. CJ ENM today announced it is taking a majority stake in the organization as the Korean media giant looks to build its presence in Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. af Malmborg says, “CJ ENM is the ideal partner for Eccho Rights in our ambition to build on our business models in television drama for the future. Our experience in the Turkish and Western drama market creates a very solid link to Korea and the rest of Asia. To be a part of CJ ENM will enable us to grow and to develop an even stronger offering to TV producers worldwide.”
TV DRAMA: You have built a strong business in Turkish dramas. Do they continue to perform well for you?
AF MALMBORG: They still perform extraordinarily well. Latin America is still strong. Asia is very promising. There are lots of new markets coming up, like Bangladesh, and Indonesia is coming back. The cloud in the sky in the Turkish case is they are struggling with the fluctuation in their currency, so the whole market is a bit turbulent. That means it’s a little bit hard to finance [shows] and many of the broadcasters who normally pay the whole budget are struggling with their advertising revenues. So it’s a bit of trouble in the home market, but the international market is still strong.
What is really amazing is the success in Spain in the last year. Fatmagül outperformed everything else, and now we have Ezel on air. We have sold Stiletto Vendetta and Brave and Beautiful to Mediaset. So there are two channels, Nova and Mediaset, airing Turkish dramas in Spain, with very strong results. That is very promising. Spain is the rising star in Turkish drama in Western Europe. And we still have a daily series on SVT in Sweden.
TV DRAMA: What are your other primary sources of drama series?
AF MALMBORG: Our two main sources are Turkey and Scandinavia. Nordic drama is doing well for us. We had Conspiracy of Silence, we have a new show called Honour, with four leading actresses in Sweden. Russia has always been close to our hearts. Trotsky sold to Netflix and we’ve done a number of different deals. Our next big focus is Korean series. We’ve been doing lots of adaptations but we’re looking at doing more. There are lots of Korean adaptations in Turkey. We’re also doing some Scandinavian scripts—we sold Nurses to a number of countries. We’re doing ten adaptations per year around the world.
TV DRAMA: Do your clients prefer dubbed dramas to subtitled ones?
AF MALMBORG: Most countries are dubbing. We’re dubbing a thousand hours a year to Spanish from Turkish series. The financing and control of the language assets is getting more and more important. Turkish drama is growing quite a lot in Africa, for example. It’s always a bit of a hurdle to finance the dubbing but once you have it then it goes much easier and you can make a number of smaller deals. And owning a dubbing studio is a good business nowadays.
TV DRAMA: What are your main priorities for 2019?
AF MALMBORG: An interesting trend is the rise of Spain as a production country. It’s very vibrant. Countries like Turkey and Spain are becoming global production hubs. We are selling El Accidente, which is doing well. It takes one smash hit like Money Heist to open people’s eyes. Turkish drama is very important for us. In Nordic drama we are signing up a number of series. It’s a trendsetting source country. And Korea will be super interesting in 2019. We’ll do much more there.