One of the most popular local TV series of this season on Turkish TV industry was ‚Fi‚. It was simply a drama but also unique due to a number of reasons. First of all, it was a series available ONLY online as a OTT content but not broadcasted in the classical sense. Even though this is quite common in US like examples of many Netflix Originals, it’s quite rare that a TV series with a remarkable budget level like ‚Fi‘ is not broadcasted all over Turkey but only available through a OTT service.
At this point, I’d better give a quick background information about the service that owns ‚Fi‘. The OTT service is called PuhuTV. It’s backed by a major broadcaster group in Turkey, Dogus Media. PuhuTV has been launched commercially early this year as a free-of-charge, ad-based catchup TV service hosting major TV series from a variety of channels. In order to create an awareness in the market and make some noise, they’ve made a sensational launch for their first and for the time being only ‚Originals‚ content Fi. As there is no Live TV channel offering on PuhuTV, the commercial launch event has been publicly available on YouTube TV. At launch night, the first 3 episodes of Fi has been released. As a matter of fact, producing original content like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video is doing in US is already done before by BluTV which is another OTT service. BluTV is owned by one of theTurkey’s major TV broadcaster Dogan Holding. As of today, there are 3 original, exclusive content on BluTV. On top of these, Netflix Turkey is also working on a brand-new local Originals nowadays specific for Turkish market.
Coming back to the popular TV series Fi, it was not made available all at once, but along a series of weeks unlike the Netflix /Amazon Originals. Typically all the episodes of a OTT type of TV series‘ new season are made online on the commercial date which is announced earlier. Then, audiences are looking forward the launch date and watching many episodes in a row once they are available. (i.e. Game of Thrones of HBO, House of Cards of Netflix) Unlike the typical scenario, even though the first 3 episodes of Fi have been made available online in April at the launch event, Fi fans had to wait another few weeks in order to watch the remaining episodes. PuhuTV had relased remaining episodes one by one every week. Eventually, the last episode was online on 16th of June as the season final. I’ve thought about the reason whyPuhuTV management decided to release the episodes over the course of 2-3 months instead of making the complete set of episodes of Fi made online at once,
Even though BluTV and PuhuTV are similar OTT services there is a significant difference between them. While BluTV is a subscription based service, PuhuTV is a free-of-charge, ad-based service. That’s why PuhuTV had to wait the rating results of the first 3 episodes. The result was really impressive. According to the results that has been shared, the first 3 episodes have been watched a total of 3,5 million views within the first 50 hours. For the advertisement agencies, this is the most critical KPI that they care. That’s why PuhuTV management should have first waited to get these results in order to convince the advertisers more easily. Following the fascinating results of the first 3 episodes which were basically missing ads, we’ve seen many ads as in the form of product placement (embedded into to the content in a relatively natural way). Actually, for a service that is free-of-charge the audiences are more tolerant to ads.
It remains to be seen if this ad-based model will be sustainable in Turkish market. By nature, Turkish TV sector is quite competetive and dominated by more than 500 FTA channels broadcasting via satellite with a country-wide penetration of more than 70 percent.