Izzet Pinto and sister Gila present Global Agency’s new hit show Beat Me If You Can
BY Stanislav Kimchev
Beat Me if You Can is the latest hit talent show to come out from Global Agency’s catalog, and also the first format to be created by Gila Pintoyo Kantar, the sister of Izzet Pinto, CEO of Global Agency. Beat Me if You Can made its international debut at MIPCOM, while it has already been renewed for a second season by Saudi Arabia’s SBC. Gila and Izzet told Stanislav Kimchev how the format was created and what makes it so attractive to the audience.
Izzet Pinto, Gila Kantar
Global Agency launched as a format distributor. Then you had great success with Turkish drama internationally, and in the past few years you got back to selling more formats. How many of them are your original projects and what are the main benefits of selling your own creations?
Izzet: Yes, we started with a single format, actually. The company was launched with a single format called Perfect Bride. And the first two years we just had one project. The reason was that Turkey did not have any local formats. Luckily, after two years we decided to try Turkish dramas and Bulgaria was our first client, and then it really boomed. We grew a lot with dramas, but I personally had so much passion for formats because we set up Global Agency as a format company. Thus, we also started representing many formats and big hits like Shopping Monsters, Joker, etc.

The first format I created was Talent Hunters. It was a talent show that we sold to a couple of countries, especially in Asia. And after creating the first format, I learned how to structure a format and hen I created my first professional format - Keep Your Light Shining which was produced in nine territories.

I loved creating, so I created more and more. So in total I created nine formats and I created one with Gila together, a joint format, that's our 10th. And our 11th original format was created by her - Beat Me If You Can. So, I Can say we have a total of 11 original Global Agency formats out of 75 formats we represent.

You were highlighting Beat Me If You Can at MIPTV, which was recently renewed by Saudi broadcaster SBC. What are the ratings of the show in Saudi Arabia?
Izzet: The numbers are huge. They have also linked through Twitter to show it online. In the third week, 42.000 people were watching online and in the fourth week it more than doubled, an the following week, it reached 164.000, while the grand finale was seen by 180.000. So the show started from 35.000 online viewers, to 180.000. These are the numbers only for streaming. The show is also huge on TikTok, some videos were watched by 6.4 million and some reach up to 7.5 million. Because it was so successful, they started casting right away after the grand finale of season one and the second season will start in December.

Gila, tell us a bit more about Beat Me if You Can. How did you come up with the idea and how long did it take to fully realize it as a format?
Gila: Approximately six years ago it was almost the end of the market. I was just looking at magazines. There are ten cabinets and in each of them there is one contestant, but the jury doesn't know who is in which cabinet. So by chance I was looking at the magazine and I saw a lady looking at an apartment. On the apartment there were around 20 windows, and in every window there was someone looking. So I thought: “Wow, this is a good idea”. Instead of the lady, let's put to a jury and I can decorate something like that and it will be hidden behind the cabinets. So it just came to me, from the photograph. But I was always in this business for the last 15 years and I have been pitching formats to all my clients, maybe over 400 formats during these 15 years, I knew what people were looking for.

So when this idea came to my mind, I said, okay, I have to develop it. It took almost three years. Not that it took three years to develop, but I wanted to have the right time because we always had strong formats on our hands.

SBC is a Saudi channel. For the first time, they bought something European. They always produce their local formats. They are always closed to outside ideas. They did a perfect job and we are really happy with the results. They are also happy.

What sets it apart from other talent formats?
Gila: First of all, it's not a regular singing format. It's a singing gameshow. So it has a strategy inside. The judges are making their own strategy to choose the contestants, and there is a very important memory element. They have to remember who is in which cabinet. So it has many nice different elements. I can 100% say that this is unique because there are many, many singing formats that copy each other, but they are connected to some idea. This is totally unique.

Izzet: Plus, each time there is a duel and someone is losing, and the other one, since they have a better voice, goes back to his cabinet. It’s like a memory card game. In that cabinet, I already heard the voice so I can use it when the right time comes, when my rival chooses a weaker candidate. So there is no format with this element as well.

How was the MIPTV market for Global Agency?
Izzet: I have always been a big fan of MIP markets, both MIPTV and MIPCOM and we always have big attendance. I care about this market a lot and I think MIPTV is the second best market during the year. Also six months ago we attended, we had a good market. This time it's even better than MIPCOM last year. It was smaller, it wasn't the general media, but definitely this is better. It's going very well. We are packed, we already came here with over 100 appointments before the market and with the walk-ins, etc. We have up to 150 meetings. This is a good number.

Can you highlight some of the new things in your catalog, some potential sales that you see?
Izzet: From the producer of Daydreamer, which was Can Yaman’s biggest hit, there is a new project called When a Man Loves. It's a romantic comedy. The writer is the same as Daydreamer. After this project finishes in Turkey, they will be making a spin-off called When a Woman Loves. So it's already a big success and the spin-off will be good. We also have Village Life which I think Poland will be the first territory to license.

Also our format called Help Me Mama is brand new. It's for youngsters getting help from their mothers in a competition. It's a fun format. Plus, the back catalog is huge, like 150 really strong titles. I already said that when a project doesn't sell, we take it out. So this is a reduced strong catalog with 150 strong titles.

What's going to be your next market? Where are you going next?
Izzet: I think our next market will be Budapest. The markets are back and each time when the market is opening, we will be going, no matter if it's small or not. We will go to ATF, we will go to Dubai. We find these markets really helpful.

Was your business affected much by the war in Ukraine?
Izzet: Right now, not too much, but time will show. But as a company, we are really putting our heart in this position. We are always in talks with our Ukrainian clients, with our Russian clients. We just hope that this ends today and we will be happy to contribute to Ukraine and help the country return to normality.
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