Tim & B
Welcome to Deadline International disruptors, a feature in which we will spotlight key executives and companies outside the United States who are disrupting the offshore market. This week we speak to Turkish TV channel Tims & B, the producers behind epic historical drama series Magnificent century. The company just launched a new drama another love at Mipcom last month and Séline Aratdirector of international operations of the company, reveals what’s next for the prolific producer and why Turkish television content will continue to stand out on the international stage.
When rival producers Timur Savcı and Burak Sağyaşar decided to join their two production companies – Savcı’s Tims Productions and Sağyaşar’s Bi Yapım – in 2017, it marked the union of two of the Türkiyethe country’s most prominent television content creators. Savcı was the producer of the Ottoman period drama Magnificent centurya global phenomenon widely seen as the catalyst for the country’s television boom, while producer-actor Sağyaşar had directed the hugely popular comedy-drama Hayatbroadcast in more than 30 countries around the world.
Over the past five years, the company has established itself as one of Turkey’s most successful production banners, producing a multitude of genres from drama to fantasy, dystopia and melodrama for linear broadcasters and global platforms. Last month at Mipcom, the company launched its most recent local success another love, which premiered on Fox Turkey in September to rave reviews. The show, which brings together Hayat starring Hande Erçel and Burak Deniz and is sold by Global Agency, tells the story of a presenter with dissociative identity disorder and a prosecutor who are drawn into a case fueled by passion and tension as they both seek to reveal the dark truth about a mysterious serial killer.
“Their on-screen chemistry is almost tangible,” Selin Arat, director of international operations at Tims&B, says of the lead actors. “Turkish dramas can sometimes become repetitive in terms of subject matter or the way they deal with a particular product or topic, but as a company that tries to innovate itself and the genres it creates, we wanted to integrate this darker side. the game because our writer (Ethem Özışık) is so good on such topics.
While mental health issues have been discussed in recent years in Turkey, says Arat another love is the “first Turkish series to feature a protagonist suffering from split personality disorder”.
“Turkish dramas are tackling these topics more and more, but split personality is a very difficult thing to work with and it will be a challenge for us, but that’s why it’s so exciting and challenging,” says Arat. “It’s a Turkish drama at its core, but without losing the love element. In that sense, it’s more of a Western-style drama. There are more crime thriller elements that we wanted to try to work with.
And it worked. The first and second episodes of another love were the most-watched series in the commercial demographic on the day they aired, generating nearly 300,000 tweets. (Learn more about another lovewhich was selected for Deadline’s Global Breakout this week, here).
Additionally, the company’s acclaimed drama series Bitterlands, which follows a legendary love that begins in Istanbul in the 1970s and continues in southern Turkey through the trials of evil, ambition and tyranny, has captivated audiences for four seasons. It has been distributed in more than 55 countries around the world and has enjoyed success not only in countries that have long acquired Turkish content, such as Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Latin America, but also in Western European countries such as Spain and Italy. . For the latter, the series broadcast on Mediaset achieved an average market share of 2.7 million viewers, with an audience share of 24%.
Other projects such as fantasy drama Shahmaran and dystopian drama Hot skull became big hits for Netflix when they aired on the streamer this year and last year respectively. Both projects entered Netflix’s top 10 for non-English television series.
A magnificent story
Indeed, Tims & B has enjoyed many modern successes since Savcı and Sağyaşar merged their companies six years ago, but the company has built on very strong foundations.
“I first came to Tims because of my background in film,” says Arat, who started at Tims in 2009. “I was supposed to create a film department within the company, but instead At the time, my boss said to me: ‘Selin, we are working on this project called Magnificent century and it’s huge and we can’t deal with the cinema at the moment. The rest is television history.
The epic series based on the life and court of Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, the longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, broke Turkish television records when it aired in 2011, with more than one third of prime-time viewers watching the 90s series’ one-minute episodes each week.
It was broadcast in more than 140 countries and was watched by more than 500 million people worldwide. Arat remembers that when they first received a request from Russia “which hadn’t licensed anything from Turkey in years,” they were “very, very excited.”
“They wanted to try it with a few episodes, so we gave it to them, and it became so successful that it caused a public outcry when they had to stop airing it because they had to wait for the rest of the series. episodes of our society,” she says.
Today, Magnificent century continues to be recognized as one of the most influential and beloved Turkish television shows of this century thanks to its popular cast, which includes Halit Ergenç and Meryem Uzerli, and its high production value. And while Arat doesn’t reveal specific figures, she notes that it is the most expensive Turkish series ever made.
Looking to continue to leverage this intellectual property while continuing its mission to be a pioneer in the local and global entertainment industry, Tims&B partnered with metaverse platform The Sandbox earlier this year to launch Magnificent century in the sphere of virtual gaming. It is the second series to enter the Sandbox metaverse after The Walking Dead. Launched in Paris this summer, the game can now create its own experiences using original and established characters and worlds.
Reflecting on the power of this intellectual property today, Arat says, “I now understand that all the work we put into it is paying off. This is one of our ongoing projects and it is still licensed and under license. It really is a phenomenon. In terms of visual quality, considering its production year, it may not be as high as other period dramas circulating in the world, but it has such a powerful story and such a powerful manner to convey the story that it is gratifying to see this. it still touches people.
Turkey has long been one of the world’s largest exporters of television content, with markets such as Latin America, South America, the Middle East and the Balkan countries historically being among the biggest consumers of series in the country. Turkish series, often called telenovelas because of their dramatic style and length, have long appealed to Spanish-speaking markets because their romances, often centered on family and dramatic characters, resonate with Spanish-speaking audiences. But, Arat believes, it is important that Turkish industry does not rest on its laurels.
“Turkish series are still number two in the world,” she assures. “But we have very strong competition from Spain and Latin America coming back to create top-notch premium shows. So we are in competition. Additionally, I have to say that the entry of digital platforms into the Turkish market has juggled things a bit.
She’s referring to streamers’ deep pockets that allow them, at times, to pay higher salaries to cast and crew. In Turkey, Arat notes, shows are usually filmed for a full week just before the following week’s broadcast.
“No one does this in the rest of the world, everyone shoots back-to-back episodes, puts them aside and edits them, then they start airing them once everything is ready – but we run a weekly marathon,” says -She.
But she has a hunch that the move to linear television could return. “The boom could come back because people are adopting linear TV more strongly and that’s where we can really reflect the Turkish DNA of TV series that work so well all over the world,” she says. “When you get into the digital platform space, it’s a bit of a game changer because the length of the episodes is shorter and since you’re on a global platform and you have all these different ideas that you want to play with, but it takes you away from your real core and your innate values. Sometimes it can kind of kill the magic.
Tims & B is next developing a new period drama adapted from a best-selling novel. According to the company, it will be the highest-budget Turkish series of all time, surpassing even Magnificent century.
While Arat can’t reveal much yet, she says the scale of its budget means it will have to be a multinational co-production.
“No streamer is able to finance this project on their own, so it will have to be a co-production because the scope of the project is so large,” she says of the new project. “But if we succeed, it will certainly be our next success after Magnificent century.”