Turkish Tales: Trends in CEE


Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) has long represented a key market for distributors with Turkish drama programming, giving those heading to Budapest for either (or both!) of the back-to-back content markets there in June reason for optimism about the business prospects ahead.

“Central and Eastern Europe holds immense importance for Turkish distributors,” says Ekin Koyuncu Karaman, global distribution and partnership director at OGM Universe. “Due to our shared historical background, Turkish dramas effortlessly resonate with audiences in each country within the region.”

“Business in CEE has been great, as the audiences enjoy consuming Turkish series,” agrees Çağla Menderes, sales manager for CEE, CIS and Europe at Kanal D International. “One of the main reasons Turkish series are successful there is the similarity in family lives.”

Asli Serim, head of international sales at Calinos Entertainment, adds that the two regions have “historical ties, similar cultural backgrounds and tastes.”

Calinos has found that traditional classic-style Turkish drama works well in CEE. “Love, tears, betrayal, family ties, powerful families, love between women and men, love for a child—this is a long-lasting list,” she says.

Kanal D International also cites classic dramas as working best in CEE. “Those series focus mainly on family values, which is something we all care about,” says Canan Koca, sales executive for CEE, CIS and Europe. “Family is missed more and more as cities get larger and people relocate farther away, which increases the significance of these dramas. For instance, we believe this is why our series Three Sisters is so successful. It brings out family values by sharing the nostalgic sentiment we all missed.”

OGM Universe’s Koyuncu Karaman has seen different preferences across the various countries in CEE. She says, “Historical and costume dramas tend to perform exceptionally well in Poland, while romantic comedies are popular in Hungary, Serbia and Macedonia. However, if we generalize, melodramas emerge as the highlight in most parts of the world. Turkish productions have a distinct DNA that encompasses rich storytelling, excellent production quality, compelling performances and breathtaking landscapes. Over 100 countries may find the content exciting and intriguing when all of these factors align.”

Koyuncu Karaman adds that the Balkans have consistently shown a strong interest in broadcasting Turkish dramas, and in the past couple of years, there has been a noticeable uptick. “This expanding market presents an exciting opportunity for Turkish distributors to reach new viewers and expand their presence in the Baltic countries,” she says.

Kanal D International’s Koca cites Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary as key buyers, along with Kosovo, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. “We do sell our content to all countries in CEE; however, there has been a rise in interest from countries such as Greece, the Baltic states, Poland and the Czech Republic,” Koca adds.

For Calinos’s Serim, the CEE region is “totally open for us, and we are working with every country in the region. Romania, Bulgaria and Macedonia are the countries where Turkish drama has a strong presence in the region.”

While ready-made dramas remain the focus for Calinos in CEE, the company has been working on format sales and evaluating co-production options in the region since the beginning of the 2020s. In 2021, Ruxandra Ion and Dream Film Production produced Adela, a Romanian adaptation of That’s My Life (O Hayat Benim) for Antena 1. “The remake was a huge success and turned into a phenomenon in the region,” Serim says.

This year, Antena 1 started producing the remake of No: 309 as Room 609. Calinos Entertainment has distribution rights for both Adela and Room 609.

OGM Universe’s Koyuncu Karaman is also eyeing the potential for remakes in the region. “Recently, there has been a notable increase in local production within the CEE territories,” Koyuncu Karaman says. “This is particularly [true] in countries such as Serbia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Romania, Greece and Bulgaria. As Turkish content continues to be well-received in these territories, Turkish distributors can explore new avenues beyond delivering ready-made content.”

There are also a number of co-production opportunities emerging in the CEE territories, Koyuncu Karaman adds. “This collaborative approach not only facilitates the exchange of creative ideas and resources but also enables the blending of cultural elements from both sides. This results in unique and appealing content for multiple territories.”

And new sales prospects are on the horizon, adding to the roster of reasons that distributors of Turkish series are expecting buoyant business. “We are noticing an increase in the number of countries that are willing to try our content for the first time and beginning to realize the potential in Turkish series,” Kanal D International’s Menderes says. “This, of course, is a great opportunity for us to extend our potential sales throughout the entire CEE region.”