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It is enjoying a solid run of growth and has ambitious plans to expand further. The interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity. What is the basic business concept behind the launch of BluTV?
We have seen the increase of video-on-demand VOD and streaming-video-on-demand SVOD services around the world, a trend that has also reached Turkey and where appetite for these services is growing.
The basic business concept is to exploit this growth trend and bring this new service to Turkey. So, we want to be the first Turkish service to bring Turkish content to these regions. Outside of Turkey we see ourselves as a niche OTT service that will focus mainly on Turkish dramas, which can then be accessed in those regions by people who enjoy watching Turkish content.
Turkish TV shows have been very popular internationally in the last years. Do you have some data-export revenue, hours of content exported, etc.
Another factor showcasing the popularity of Turkish TV series is that they are exported to more than countries globally.
Turkey is currently among the top five exporters of TV content in the world. Some of your series were on YouTube first. And then, owing to their popularity, you pulled them off YouTube and offered them exclusively on OTT.
What was the main purpose of this strategy, and how do you evaluate its utility now? We contacted an independent production company that had launched its own show on YouTube, and we tried to convince them to bring their shows to BluTV.
The shows were on YouTube for two seasons, accessible for free, and achieved impressive viewership figures: 1 million subscribers to their YouTube channel, with each episode registering around 9 million views.
We were always in close contact with them, and we finally struck a deal to pull the shows off YouTube and bring them to BluTV on an exclusive basis from Season 3 onward.
This business deal brought us huge subscriber numbers. Initially we were not sure whether people were going to accept converting to a paying service, compared to what had been offered to them for free before.
Yet people were, in fact, more than willing to pay for these shows and to watch them on BluTV.
It was a huge success for us, and we are keeping this business strategy-that is, launching a show first on YouTube, testing its popularity, and then transferring it to BluTV. Right now, we have launched a couple of other shows on YouTube, and we will test their popularity.
Of course, we do not do this with every show that we have, as most of our shows are launched directly on BluTV. Instead, this is a strategy for when we are approached by semi-professional producers who believe they may have a good idea for a project, or where we may think it is worth experimenting.
Are the IP rights for the content BluTV offers online owned by your company, or do you also accept content owned by third parties? For all other content, we have licensing deals with various producers and TV channels. Since we're not part of a larger media group any more, we've intensified our collaboration with different producers and TV channels.
For the first time in the Turkish TV history, we've exclusively licensed the online rights of series that are being aired on other TV channels. Our goal is to continue with that kind of consolidation for the Turkish market. You put a lot of emphasis on original Turkish content.
Olivier Giroud scored to help France earn a hard-fought win at Iceland, while Turkey needed a 90th-minute goal from Cenk Tosun to push it past Albania in Istanbul. Both France and Turkey have 18 points.
What is the split between original and library on BluTV? Is that split going to change in the next five years, favouring more original content?
In the future, we plan to offer more originals because we know that the reason people in Turkey subscribe to BluTV is clearly because of the BluTV originals. Do you have an estimate as to how much money is invested annually in Turkey by all OTT players for original content?
How high do you estimate this investment could be in the next five years? We believe that this amount will grow considerably in the next years as BluTV and global players will keep producing more Turkish content.
Which international markets have you targeted first, and why? We will keep focusing on that market, and we expect more growth in the next year.
How is BluTV currently performing internationally? The MENA region is where we have our best results, so far. It is a high-population region with one single language, and Turkish content is an important pillar of the main content offering in this region.
Our second-most-important international target segment is the Turkish-speaking population outside of Turkey.
What does the split between international and Turkish domestic users look like? Which of your international markets is the strongest?
MENA is the largest market, due to its size and the fact that Turkish content is part of the mainstream content offering. We've also launched a product for the Turkish diaspora and Turkish-speaking communities around Turkey.
Which countries or regions are your next targets for expanding the offerings of BluTV? Could you provide some insight as to why you have chosen these markets?
We're in close relationships with the Turkish producers and are monitoring what they are exporting, how much these exports have increased, and also the show's audience rating in specific countries. We've seen a huge jump in the last two to three years in these countries, and that's why we plan to launch the service there.
How do these partnerships fit with your strategy, and are you planning to have more partnerships with telcos? When we launched in Turkey, we would have liked to partner with telecoms operators, but it did not happen.
Telcos were pushing their own OTT services, and it wouldn't have been commercially viable. So, in Turkey, we grow direct-to-consumer without any telecom partnerships.
Although this was the harder way, we learned a lot more about our customers and what they want. As a result, it is now not essential for us to partner in Turkey as we have dealt with a number of the problems ourselves.
It is very different in MENA, however, and it is essential for us to partner with local operators. We would like to partner with a few more operators in the region, especially in the Maghreb countries.
We are also in discussions with some of the pay-TV providers in the region since they also have a very good knowledge of-and have established access to-the local customer base.