Peter, last year you won Pitch & Play LIVE with The Land is Singing. What were your expectations when entering the competition? What changed for you after winning the award for best CEE format?
I had no expectations. It was interesting for me to go to Budapest and have a look behind the curtain of a market like NATPE. After I won, I signed the contract with Global Agency and I opened a new file in my business activities. Never before have I even thought about international distribution of my formats.
In January, you also had the opportunity to present the format at NATPE Miami. Tell us more about your experience and meetings there?
I was lost in translation in Miami: horrible English, not ready for meetings and presentations like this. But luckily, also with your help, in Miami Ruyhan Durali from Global Agency found me.
The format was picked for international distribution by Global Agency and is now sold as Sounds of the Nation. Could you tell us how this partnership was born?
Ruyhan just come to me and told me: “This format is interesting to me, let’s discuss it.” Then, we had few hours of discussion and then we signed the contract. Since Miami, I have been a few times in Istanbul and this month I have a meeting with Herve Hubert in France, who optioned the format. We have the same situation in Greece, and serious discussions are in place for Russia. Everything is going better than I supposed.
Sounds of the Nation had another successful season in Slovakia this spring. How do you explain the huge popularity of the format? Are you planning a third edition?
Folklore is pure beauty, but it’s difficult to turn this beauty into a TV show. And I succeeded. The second edition started eight months after the final episode of series one. They asked immediately for season three, but I told them it will not happen before Fall 2019. Such a high frequency can kill the format in my opinion. I’m pleased also that the two commercial competitors of state TV are asking for this format. That’s a kind of miracle.
Ruyhan, Global Agency signed a deal with Nunez NFE for talent format The Land is Singing which is now being distributed as Sounds of the Nation. How did you discover the show? What attracted you the most to this format?
We met with Peter at the last NATPE Miami market via one of my friends. Peter told me that he has a format about folklore and how it succeeded in Slovakia by increasing the channel average from 7% to 30%. When he mentioned the format itself, I was already attracted by the idea of folkloric show which has never seen before. In addition, its success in Slovakia excited me because I believe that there is magic in a show which gets these numbers on TV. When I watched the show, I saw the magic: There are 3 celebrities in each episode and they go to their hometowns which actually they go to their roots! Imagine that the folkloric songs which are like anthems for many cultures, for many societies, are going to be sang by the new generation. The presenters of the show are the digital influencers, so also the new generation. They learn the traditions and the customs of their culture via this show with the audiences too... These songs, the costumes, all the cultural aspects of the show that can be adapted to any territory, attracted me deeply. I was in a hurry on the day I met Peter but I postponed my meetings and we chatted with Peter for almost 4 hours about the show.
Together with Peter you introduced new elements to the format. What are they?
The show itself was already so successful in Slovakia and I did quite like the original version. However, I thought that I need to add something different to the format for Turkey to be able to compete with the big budget dramas in primetime. So, in the Turkish version, 3 celebrities go to their hometowns and they choose 3 performances which means we’ll watch totally 9 performances in one night. And for the voting part, I came up with the idea to use a system similar to the Eurovision Song Contest.
Could you reveal some details around the Turkish production?
We are already in touch with two big channels in Turkey and got positive feedback. Our preparations are going on smoothly and we are so lucky to have the Slovak version in our hands which is guiding us in a perfect way. I was also in Slovakia during the shootings and even if I don’t know the language, the atmosphere of the studio and the energy, the vibe there amazed me.
Additionally, I must say that Turkey is a very rich country for a show like Sounds of the Nation, with various traditional songs, dances, costumes and different cultural aspects in almost every part of the country. I sincerely believe that this format can be very successful anywhere it is aired, including Turkey and many different regions in the world.
Izzet, you joined forces with Nunez NFE and now represent their talent format Sounds of the Nation. What do you like about the show and what is its biggest appeal to international broadcasters?
As Global Agency, we are always looking for fresh and unique ideas yet simple. Talent shows have always been on our radar and Sounds of the Nation caught our attention when we watched the trailer with our team. Until now, nobody has created a format based on folk music that is appealing to every nation. The format is all about going back to the roots and showcasing the traditions to viewers from different backgrounds.
Have you closed any deals for the format that you picked up shortly after its official presentation at NATPE Miami?
In a short time, the format has received very good interest and so far, we have closed deals in France and Greece. We are about to close deals in China, Czech Republic, Russia and Turkey. We are also negotiating with another 6-7 territories. It’s crucial to find the right partners in each country. We are not only looking to license the format but trying to select the best partner who can produce the format for multiple seasons with major success.
Do you follow the Pitch & Play competition to discover fresh ideas for your catalog?
After scouting the format through Pitch& Play, we are paying more attention to this event. Our Head of Format Acquisitions, Umay Ayaz will be attending NATPE in order to be present at this event. I hope we can scout a couple of promising formats.