The Global Reach and Cultural Influence of Turkish Television Dramas

  A young widow agrees to stay with her boss in order to raise money for treatment for her son, who is suffering from leukemia. This balding boss is misogynistic and often tells his friends not to trust women. Unexpectedly, the widow and the boss fell in love. They experienced two failed engagements, a divorce, the appearance of an illegitimate child, a miscarriage, several assassinations, and a suicide, and finally achieved success in episode 179. The Turkish drama “One Thousand and One Nights”, adapted from a Middle Eastern folk tale, became a huge success as soon as it “went overseas”.
  | Aiming at the global market |
  Over the past decade or so, Turkish content producers have achieved impressive results. Today, Turkish dramas are broadcast in more than 150 countries and regions around the world. Turkey, second only to the United States, has become the world’s second largest exporter of TV dramas, with an annual export value of approximately US$600 million. In recent years, more than 20 Turkish companies have been active in major TV festivals, showing Turkish dramas to global buyers in the hope of reaching new deals. In addition to being popular in the Middle East and European countries that are closer culturally or geographically, Turkish dramas have also conquered markets further afield.
  Latin America has become the “second home” of Turkish dramas. In 2014, “One Thousand and One Nights” broke the ratings record when it premiered in Chile, helping the struggling Chilean Mega TV station to counterattack and become the only profitable TV station that year. Since then, the station has purchased more than 20 Turkish dramas, becoming one of the most popular stations in Chile. Translation is the key to helping “One Thousand and One Nights” win the Chilean market. The Turkish drama, dubbed in Spanish by Chilean actors, quickly spread to Latin America.
  Turkish dramas are also popular among Spanish-speaking people in the United States. Jessica Rodriguez, president of Universal Television Network, pointed out that these dramas have a significant effect on increasing ratings, making the platform the first in the broadcast period.
  TV channels in African countries are also showing Turkish dramas. The Turkish drama has been translated into Hausa and has gained a huge fan base in Nigeria. Hausa is one of the most spoken languages ​​in Africa after Swahili. Ethiopian audiences can also watch Turkish dramas translated into Amharic.

  | The content impresses the audience |
  Why can Turkish dramas attract so many viewers?
  Rodriguez believes that extremely high production standards, gorgeous shooting scenes and talented actors are the three elements for the successful overseas expansion of Turkish dramas. She also analyzed: “Turkish dramas focus on character creation and are good at using narrative techniques. They are romantic, dramatic, and epic… Turkish dramas have all the attractive features of traditional soap operas, and they are designed to be more in line with the tastes of today’s audiences. .”
  Perhaps, there is another important reason. The feelings about family, love and faith conveyed by these works have resonated with many viewers. Nigerian playwright Maimouna Bailey pointed out that love is a theme that Turkish film and television productions focus on, and Hausa people like love stories. She said: “Many of the stories focus on family life and historical issues, which are very resonant to the Hausa people. Moreover, these works celebrate virtues such as tolerance, courage, and determination.” Ozlem Ursu, who is engaged in Turkish drama sales “We like big families, good dinners and respect for our elders,” Mubu said.
  In addition, media industry experts point out that Latin American audiences, tired of local dramas focusing too much on sex, violence and drugs, are more welcoming A conservative Turkish drama. When “One Thousand and One Nights” was popular in Argentina, when the hero and heroine kissed for the first time, even Argentina’s conservative newspapers complained that the performance was not passionate enough. Argentinian female viewers who like Turkish dramas consider them “romantic and respectable” and point out that Argentinian dramas are too extreme, with characters having sex on the first date. Fatima, from northern Nigeria, echoed similar sentiments. She believes that Turkish dramas are “respectable” and she won’t feel embarrassed when watching them with her children.

  | The impact has begun to bear fruit |
  The influence of Turkish dramas has penetrated deeply into the lives of audiences from all over the world. Since the introduction of the Turkish drama, Chile and Argentina have started a trend of naming their children after the protagonists in the drama. The participating Turkish actors have gained a large number of fans all over the world. They frequently appear on social media trending lists and magazine covers in various countries, and appear in popular reality shows. The Wisenyele Tirahun family living in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, spends almost every night watching Turkish dramas in front of the TV for an hour. Daughter Bertel told the Tirahun couple: “I have a big dream – to go to Istanbul and meet my stars.”
  Some viewers who are not satisfied with watching the dubbed version of the series choose to look for the original TV series online. Beba Abdullahi, who lives in Kano, Nigeria, learns Turkish by watching dramas regularly. He has taught himself some words and phrases and can provide background information to his wife and children when they watch the show together as a family. “We saw the beautiful culture of the Turks and learned about their social life and history,” Abdullahi said. Not many Turks live in Nigeria, but today many people in northern Nigeria understand Turkish language. But for Sunurain Abdul-Wahab, understanding is not enough. Abdul-Wahab was an avid fan of Turkish dramas, and he quickly switched from teaching himself Turkish to attending specialized language classes in the hope of improving his mastery of the language. He said that he was very curious about the Ottoman Empire, was very happy to learn the relevant history through film and television works, and really wanted to go to Istanbul.
  Another Nigerian fan, Hafsey Lingim, said she fell in love with drinking coffee after watching Turkish dramas. “Turks love coffee.” Linjim said, “I find that drinking coffee can keep them calm, make them feel comfortable, and become energetic.”
  Turkey’s “Freedom Daily” published an article in 2017, pointing out that Turkey’s political and economic Participants regard the export of TV series as a tool to deepen foreign economic and trade cooperation. Taking Latin America as an example, they hope to promote Turkish culture through film and television works, drive the sales of Turkish products, and promote the development of tourism.
  However, Ekib Avdagic, chairman of the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, believes that these works spread Turkish culture to the world, which is as important as the huge economic value they bring.