“The high production values of dubbed Turkish television dramas, which are extremely popular in Arab households, pose a huge challenge, experts say, according to a report in the United Arab Emirates-based newspaper Gulf News on April 1.
The remarkably popular Turkish series are increasingly becoming a source of delight for sponsors and advertisers on Arab television channels, the newspaper said. The demand for Turkish drama has increased, especially with the decreasing output of the two important TV production cities of the Arabic-speaking world, Cairo and Damascus, due to the political turmoil in both countries in the past year.
But expansion into this market has its price. As the economic rule goes, an increase in demand leads to an increase in prices. Some experts in the industry believe that the increasing prices of Turkish dramas will eventually lead to a shift in demand. The high prices that Turkish series command have begun to suggest to TV networks the necessity of searching for a new profit window.
Adeeb Khair, general manager and owner of Sama Art Productions, a Syrian TV-production company which dubs Turkish dramas into colloquial Syrian Arabic, was quoted as saying, “Several years back, I bought a one-hour (one hour of copyright) Turkish drama for $600 or $700. Today, there are [those] who are willing to pay $40,000 for one-hour dramas.”
“This has opened the door for Turkish [production] companies to reconsider their prices and say they won’t sell for less than $30,000 [for a one-hour show]. This will create a problem. Who will buy them and take such a risk?” Khair said, speaking to Gulf News. His Damascus-based company has already dubbed nearly 60 Turkish dramas in the last four years.
Success of ‘Nour’
The series “Gümüş,” sold in Arabic-speaking markets under the name of “Nour,” the name of the main character in the dubbed Turkish drama, which was shown on the Saudi-owned MBC satellite channel in 2008, immediately became a hit, according to Gulf News. The high ratings it got were partly due to its unconventional use of colloquial Arabic. Non-Arabic dramas used to be more commonly dubbed into classical Arabic.
Another Turkish series popular in Arab households is “Aşk-ı Memnu” (Forbidden Love). It was among the top 10 series in Egypt last year.
The duration of Turkish dramas, some of which can exceed 100 episodes, also helps bring in advertising, because viewers get hooked on a series and become loyal to the channel that airs it.
“Once you get someone hooked, it is not just 20 or 30 episodes, it is 60 or 70 or maybe 90 episodes, so you actually guarantee an audience for a long time,” Veda Rizk, a Dubai-based TV and marketing consultant, told Gulf News.”