[from 21 March 2014 interview as Global headed off to MIPTV]
Global Agency is known in its home town of Istanbul for hosting massive, Gatsbyesque parties trimmed with bands, dance shows, and performing waitstaff at DISCOP. But the firm is no slouch on the road either, as it hits MIPTV this week with a large booth and banners, a traveling crew of 18, handpicked from across the globe, and a wide range of content both fresh and proven.
For founder Izzet Pinto, the parties and the presence are all part of building the brand, and Global is clearly a brand to watch out for. It’s been dubbed the fastest growing distribution firm in the world and, whatever your measure, this is more than hot air.
Global has grown by between 100% and 300% every year since it started in 2006, with just two co-workers and a single TV show, Perfect Bride. Now employing 25, including US- and UK-based staff, Global represents nearly 100 products, among them the Ottoman costume drama Magnificent Century. Having been sold to over 50 territories, Century is one of the hottest tickets globally, reaching an audience of over 200M now and perhaps more than 300M when the show starts broadcasting on China’s CCTV this summer.
In no small part due to the success of Century, Global currently has about 75% of its deals in ready-made drama, but Pinto plans to level this out with formats and fact-based content in the near future. To that end he teamed with Century production firm TIMS in 2012 to buy Australian fact-based distributor Worldwide Entertainment. Their first venture under that name is Battle of the Restaurants.
Global’s top-selling formats include Perfect Bride, which is still going strong, and Shopping Monsters, introduced in 2011. Each has covered about 30 territories. Sometimes this success can lead to conflicts. In France last year Shopping Monsters was broadcast head-to-head against another Global product, Decor Monsters. Pinto was relieved when saw both shows doing well and earning nearly identical audience shares.
Global’s latest venture is Pinto’s own brainchild, a cross-genre venture called Keep Your Light Shining. He describes it as a music game show, where 12 contestants start each episode and only one emerges at the end of the night. Noting that the audition stages of shows like The Voice were the most popular, Pinto aimed to create something fast-paced, with plenty of room for audience involvement. He’s currently working to license an app that allows viewers join in via second screens. Keep Your Light has been sold to 12 territories and is already in development in the US and Germany, with plans to air on ProSieben in May and CBS this fall.
Though he tends to favor non-scripted formats, Pinto will take on scripted content that he believes in. Global licensed the script for the popular Turkish drama Ask-i Memnu (Forbidden Love) to Telemundo, where it became Pasión Prohibida. In addition to Latin America, Pasión has traveled to France, Italy, and Pakistan. There’s currently an Armenian adaptation in production, and possibilities for Russian, Ukrainian, and Italian versions in the works.
Other scripted formats include Game of Silence, a drama about school mates drawn together after 20 years by a secret from their past, and The Last of the Magikyans, a Russian comedy about a patriarch’s difficulty adapting to his family’s modern ways.
Yes, Russia. While the majority (85%) of Global’s drama is Turkish, about 50% of its formats are from other countries, including Spain, Israel, Romania, France, and Germany. This two-way street works in part thanks to the company’s diverse staff hailing from every part of the globe. This year, as Pinto moves to drive formats sales up towards the level of drama, the name Global may fit better than ever.
Global’s Top-Sellers – with number of territories sold to
- Drama Magnificent Century – 52
- 1001 Nights – 49
- Love And Punishment – 43
- Iffet – 38
- Dila – 32
- Shopping Monsters – 32
- Perfect Bride – 25
- Keep Your Light Shining – 12
- Blind Taste – 9
- Rivals In Law – 8