Fi, PuhuTV, BluTV and Originals content

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.

 

Netflix cuts into Turkey with original

Reference: Digital TV Europe:

Streaming giant Netflix is getting into the original programming game in Turkey.

The Los Gatos-based SVOD service has been ramping up its activity in local markets across Europe, and has now ordered a ten-part, “hero-driven action story” based on Ottoman and Turkish legend and history.

Netflix’s drama comes from Istanbul-based O3 Medya, with company co-owner Onur Guvenata the executive producer.

It centres on a young man who discovers he has special powers before linking up with a group of misfit friends to fight dark forces that are threatening Istanbul.

Netflix VP of international original series Erik Barmack described the series as “young, fresh and exciting”, adding: “We believe that Netflix will be the perfect platform for this great Turkish production and we can’t wit to share more details later this year.”

With science fiction-themed drama rarely produced in Turkey, Guvenata said the series would create “a new genre” that would stand as “a milestone for our market”.

“It will not only resonate with the Turkish audience, but will also travel globally,” he added.

Turkey has become one of the world’s most vibrant TV markets, with its local telenovela and drama productions driving the territory to become a top three international distributor.

Companies such as Fox Networks Group, Endemol Shine and Eccho Rights, which this week sold Show TV dramaInsider to MBC in the Middle East and a number of other territories, are all active in the region.

Netflix’s new drama will sit alongside acquired Turkish series such as Magnificent Century, Ezel and Lovebird, and movies including Güneşi Gördüm (I Saw the Sun) and Kelebeğin Rüyası (The Butterfly’s Dream).

These were acquired last year as Netflix unveiled a “truly Turkish service”, and a wide-ranging deal with Vodafone’s local telecoms business.

Netflix has also localised its service in Poland, Thailand and Romania.

A few questions about TV industry in Turkey

Helen Jameson who is a  freelance journalist and writer (www.spacescript.co.uk) asked me some questions about the TV industry in Turkey for an article for the Global SatShow event. Herebelow you can see her questions and my answers.

– What are the main trends that are evident in the Turkish broadcast market at the moment? Are people watching on mobile devices?

Let’s summarize the main trends in 4 pillars:

  • OTT consumption is on the rise in Turkey like the rest of the world. In Turkey, number of DSL subscribers is 7,5 million while there are 1,8 million fiber broadband users. (There are around 20 million housholds in Turkey.) On the other hand, mobile broadband penetration ratio is 62 percent. Generally speaking with its young and dynamic population Turkish people are quite engaged on OTT TV services. Also one other major shift in the industry is all the major Pay-TV operators are offering OTT extension to their legacy DTH or cable type of services. It’s fair to say that in Turkey OTT migration is more or less completed on Pay-TV operators side. OTT content watching on YouTube is increasing dramatically. Netflix is also launched last year with localization support but didn’t create much traction mostly due to the limited content depth.
  • On the other hand, the popularity of Turkish Drama series is continuing. Each season, a few tens of new series are introduced to the market while only a number of them continue till the end of the season. The export of Turkish dramas to foreign countries, especially to EMEA region is booming. Turkey is number 2 exporter of local content following the USA.
  • Digiturk, Turkey’s greatest Pay-TV operator with more than 3 million subscribers acquired digital rights of Turkish football league for another 4 years in the expense of 500 Million USD. Historically Digiturk owns the rights since 2000. Also Digiturk has been acquired by Qatar’s Bein Group.
  • Analog switch off is still not finalized and the plan for the Digital Switchover process is still unclear.

– How is linear TV in the living room faring? Is this still important to Turkish viewers?

 Absolutely! VOD consumption on big TV screen is still niche in Turkey. Turkey is clearly a satellite country with more than 70% of households are receiving TV broadcast via satellite. There are more than 10 million FTA satellite receivers installad and people are watching mostly Live TV. 

– What about content? Is content very regional or is it very much a mixture of content demand and which other countries want this content?

Similar to most of the other countries, local content is key in Turkey. Although millions of people are watching on-demand US series like “Game of Thrones” , “Westworld” etc. through illegal download or Netflix type of legal OTT services, the most watched Live TV content is either Turkish dramas or Survivor type of local shows.

– Will the Turkish broadcast industry need to make upgrades to technology and services to meet demand in the country? – Is satellite an important means of delivery of Pay TV services?

  • Yes, there are still SD decoders and the majority of the FTA channels broadcasted are in SD resolution. There are only a few 4K Ultra HD Live channels. In order to meet end user demand for OTT services fair usage policy is expected to be cancelled and broadband connectivity which is around 5 Mbps in average should be improved. On the other hand, 4K Ultra HD sets are deploying in massive numbers since a few years even if there is not much 4K services available.
  • Satellite is definetely an important medium. In Turksat satellite there are more than 500 FTA channels and satellite reception is very common. Digiturk, D-Smart, Tivibu and Filbox are DTH operators those number of customers is covering a big portion of Pay-TV market.

– Overall, how big would you say the Turkish market is?

 Turkish market is one of biggest TV market that has  a significant growth potential. Turkey has a very young and dynamic population and Turkish economy seems stable and robust in most fundemental terms although Turkish Lira is performing poor against US Dollar. Pay-TV market penetration is still around 25 percent that is much less than the European coutries. IPTV service of Turkcell (Turkcell TV+) and DTH service of TT group (Tivibu) is growing fast in the past quarters in terms of net adds. There is a strong competition in the market in terms of producing appealing content and advanced technologies like 4K Ultra HD resolution, cloud-timeshift and integration of OTT services.

– What growth do you expect to see in the market in the coming months and years?

  •  In the pay-TV space, I think Turkcell will be investing both in OTT domain and a big TV screen domain to increase the customer base and to address untapped markets. TT group on the other hand is also playing hard to monetize the digital rights of Champion League games that is still valid till the end of 2018 season. Regarding Digiturk, following the acquisition and the ownership issue is clarified now Digiturk is going through a transformation process including rebranding of the channels as well.The other players are more or less static in the past years so I’m not expecting much move.
  • On the broadcasting side, there  are a few major FTA broadcasters with nice rating figures and they are making good money thanks to the advertisement. The market size will be dependent to the ad revenue and in general other digital mediums are receiving interest that could lead to decrease in TV ad revenue. Hence, they are looking alternative ways like second screens apps in order to achieve targeted, personilized ads.

Tivibu continues its growth trend.

Turk Telekom Group announced 2016 year end financial results. You can see them at this link. Regarding the interest of this blog, let’s have a look to the Tivibu figures.

According to the regulatory body’s official figures, as of Q3 of 2016, Tivibu has a total of 589K subscribers. (428K IPTV customers and 161K DTH customers. )

TT announced a total of 677 subscribers at the end of Q4 2016. We don’t have yet the split of this number but most probably the majority of the net additions comes from satellite domain.

Tivibu customer base was kind of stucked before the launch of satelllite service at the Q3 of 2015. Since then Tivibu gained a momentum and has reached more than 2 million subs including the OTT customers. DTH service allowed TT to provide the DTH service to any household with a satellite dish. Satellite is the most common delivery method of Digital TV services in Turkey.

Dogus Group launched puhutv

In Turkey, there are a number of OTT services. Most of them are owned by Pay-TV operator while there are also a few independent OTT services. To name a few:

  • Digiturk Play: Digiturk’s OTT service ( 60+ Live TV channels & hundreds of VOD titles ) Obviously Football League content is the main driver.
  • Tivibu Go: Turk Telekom’s OTT service( 100+ Live TV channels & hundreds of VOD titles ) TT group’s main focus is growing the customer base through fixed broadband.
  • Turkcell TV+:  Turkcell’s OTT service ( 100+ Live TV channels & hundreds of VOD titles ) Turkcell group’s main focus is growing the customer base through mobile broadband thanks to the advanced LTE infrastucture.
  • BluTV: D-Smart’s OTT service ( 27 Live TV channels & hundreds of VOD titles ) Dogan Group that owns the D-Smart also owns Kanal D FTA Channel. BluTV is trying to differentiate by the catchup TV content of Kanal D groupwithout ads (the content is in fact available on Kanal D website www,kanald.com.tr with ads) as they own the rights exclusively.
  • KabloWebTV: KabloTV’s (formerly Teledunya) OTT service. While all the mentioned services are available to anybody ( i.e. all access) without an existing subscription to the associated service provider, KabloWebTV is only available to Kablo TV customers.

In addition to these operator backed up OTT services, there are also a number of independent OTT services. The most well-known of these is apparently Netflix. Other major OTT services are Filmbox Live (http://www.filmboxlive.com/tr), and Mubi (https://mubi.com)

There is a common point on all of these services. Their business model is based on subscription. They don’t show any ads.

screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-23-45-52

 

In addition to these services, there was one free service called tvyo (http://www.tvyo.com/) based on ad-revenue. Dogus Media who owns a number of popular FTA Channels such as Star TV, NTV, NTV Spor and Kral TV was behind the service. Lately, Dogus Group has launch a new version of tvyo called as puhutv.(https://puhutv.com/) It’s currenly in beta stage. It’s basically a free of charge service hosting catch-up TV versions of  popular TV series of Dogus Group Channels both new ones and old ones as well as old Turkish movies.

Overall puhutv is a new generation version of tvyo that is trying to leverage on Live TV content and generate a significant amount of traffic due to popular series it owns. Once the traffic arrives to a certain level then Dogus Group will generate revenue through ads. Considering the characteristics of Turkish TV audience (fan of 2 hours long TV series, a very high percantage of piracy, low income level etc. ) this ad-based business model seems to have to most possible chance to monetize in OTT domain. Apart from the OTT services of Pay-TV operators , there is no independent OTT provider including Netflix that has been very successfull in Turkish TV Market. We’ll see if the model of puhutv will work.

Turkcell Superonline celebretes 1 million Broadband & TV+ customers

Turkcell Superonline fiber internet service and Turkcell TV+ service have both surpassed 1 million subscriber threshold. The homepass for fiber broadband service is 2,6 million households now in 15 cities out of 81 cities in Turkey.

In order to celebrate this milestone, during December 2016 Turkcell will be upgrading the broadband speed of all the customers to 100 Mbps bandwidth. Similarly, Turkcell TV+ users will be authorized to watch all the channels independently form their content package within December. You can watch the press release video here. (in Turkish)

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-21-26-08

Turkcell’s multiscreen TV platformu  Turkcell TV+ has reached 1 million customers as the end of October. Thanks to the 4.5 technology the average watching time on mobile clients has reached to 28 minutes per day.  The total download of the mobile Android and iOS clients already reached to 2.5 million. Premier League and NBA official broadcaster Turkcell TV+ is also delivering 2 4K Ultra HD Live TV channes together with the brand new 4K STBs.

100 thousand customers with a single invoice

Turkcell is offering a special bundle package that includes a complete set of solutions. It has 50 Mbps limitless internet (with a 125 GB fair usage quota) 4 GB mobile broadband, 500 minutes voice, 1000 SMS, and Turkcell TV+ offer, This complete package only costs 99 TRY. This package already had 100K subscribers in quite short time.

"Digital Platforms" course midterm exam in Kadir Has University, Istanbul

I’ve been teaching a course in Kadir Has University Istanbul/Turkey at Communications Faculty, New Media department. This semester is the 3rd time I’ve been teaching the course called as “Digital Platforms“.  Every semester, there is one midterm and one final exam. If you like you can see the exams of earlier years herebelow.

This week, we had the midterm exam for this semester 2016 Fall. I’ve copied the questions and potential answers as below.

KADIR HAS UNIVERSITY

NM 423: DIGITAL PLATFORMS

FALL 2016 MIDTERM EXAM

  1. Pay-TV platforms:

a.) List down all the pay-TV platforms available in Turkey together with number of up-to-date subscribers? Also you should mention about the media they are using (satellite, IP etc.) (10 points)

  • Digiturk (Satellite) : ~3 million subs
  • Teledunya (Cable) : ~1151K subs
  • D-Smart (Satellite) : ~925K subs
  • Tivibu (IP+Satellite) : 545K subs
  • Turkcell TV+ (IP): 303K subs
  • Filbox (Satellite) : 35K subs

b) Considering the new Football League Broadcasting rights tender that will take next week which one is more likely to win and why? Please explain with solid arguments. (10 points)

As I’m currently a Turkcell employee, I’d prefer not to comment on this hot topic in order to avoid any misinterpretation 🙂

  1. OTT-1 : If I were somebody totally unfamiliar with the term OTT (Over-the-top) TV, how would you explain to me what it is and how it has changed the TV industry as a whole? (20 points)

OTT TV could be defined as the delivery of video content over the open internet without the involvement of any telco in the control. OTT TV has changed the TV industry in significant ways.

It allowed content providers/aggregators to deliver their content/services directly to end users. As opposed to the legacy cable or satellite businesses where the Pay-TV operators needs to make a significant amount of investment, OTT TV providers don’t need to have their own infrastructure. They don’t need to worry about scalibility. They are simply benefiting from the existing pipes of legacy telcos which enabled them to achieve very fast Time to Market periods. As a result, end users had a variety of alternatives on top of old DTH services which lead the new concept of ‘cord-cutters’. Incumbent DTH and cable operators first saw OTT TV providers as a threat. They then started increasing to lose customers. On the last few years they started to see them as potential partners to enrich their content offering.

  1. OTT-2: Globally who is the greatest digital video platform? What makes it the greatest one? What are the competitive advantages compared to the other alternatives? Please explain with solid arguments. (20 points)

Obviously YouTube is the greatest digital video platform in the world. Every minute 60 hours of video is  uploaded to YouTube. Even this simple data tells us about the variety and richness of YouTube’s content portfolio. YouTube who is a Google company comes as an native application on Android phones.  Hence, it has a dramatic competitive advantage in terms of engagement compared to the other alternatives such as Vimeo, Dailymotion etc. Also YouTube is accessible from a lot of consumer electronic devices which serves as another booster to customer interest. YouTube has lots video channels that users could subscribe to and in return generate revenue for the content owners based on the number of views. This allowed content providers to create their own ecosystem that is constantly growing. YouTube which its ever evolving User interface provides a nice, simple and convenient user experience which is consistent through all different devices. Today YouTube allows content providers to upload 4K, 360 VR and even HDR contents and simply the most advanced digital platform.

  1. Netflix: There are lots of OTT services available in Turkey i.e. Tivibu, DigiturkPlay, BluTV etc.  Among these Netflix has a unique position? What makes Netflix so special? What are the competitive advantages compared to the other alternatives? Please explain with solid arguments. (20 points)

There are a certain number of reason why Netflix is special. First of all, it’s the only global SVOD service . Thanks to having tens of millions of active users Netflix could collect user data from all over the world and benefit those for constantly improving the user experience it’s delivering. It’s far beyond the competition in terms of recommendation engine and personalization.  Additionally, it’s hosting Netflix Originals content. In other words, it’s beyond a content aggregator, it’s producing content. (House of Cards, Narcos etc.) Netflix has a superior technology that is allowing to deliver enhanced video quality coupled with its own CDN infrastructure. Netflix is available on a lots of consumer devices which increases the engagement of its subscribers significantly. It’s one of the global lovemarks whose bandwidth usage in USA is more than 37% at peak times. It’s content library in Turkey is hosting more than thousands of TV shows and movies. Having said all those advantages, it’s a known disadvantage. It doesn’t offer neither Live TV nor premium sports content unlike Digiturk etc.

  1. Smart TV: There are a number of popular Smart TV brands on the market i.e. Samsung, Sony, LG, Arcelik, Vestel etc. Some of the Pay-TV operators (Digiturk , Tivibu etc.) are also offering Smart TV applications as an alternative to STB solution. Nevertheless, what we are witnessing is there is no real success story on the market. What are the main reasons for this? Why Smart TV app of Pay-TV operators did not attract huge interest, why they are still deploying STBs? Please explain with solid arguments. (20 points)

The main reason is the lack of internet connectivity of the Smart TVs. Typical Turkish audiences is seeing TV sets as big monitors rather than expecting the similar level of smartness like mobile phones. If Smart TV is not connected or the internet connection is not reliable it’s not feasible to deliver a service-grade TV service to paying customers.  Secondly, there is a huge amount of fragmentation on Smart TV space. There are lots of different TV brands most of them having their own technology stack and dependencies. Also the average life cycle of Smart TVs are around 7 years which makes it quite inefficient to maintain old legacy TV platforms. In general, Pay-TV operators are willing to design and deploy their own unique user experience (with well defined, tested UI and remote control). However,  Smart TV apps mostly depend on the performance and limitation of TV sets which is very complex to keep under control. The overall experience is defined mostly by the Smart TV manufacturer. Lastly. if any customer happens to experience a major issue regarding the service quality or for various marketing reasons, operators would like to manage the customer device (ideally remotely). This is relatively easier to handle with STBs instead of TVs designed and produced a 3rd party.

Netflix Turkey Launch Aftermath

Netflix has launched its service in Turkey together with localized UI and dubbing/subtitle support in 21th of September.  Netflix CEO Reed Hastings was himself also present at the launch event. Webrazzi, a local techno portal has made an interview with him, you can watch it here.

Together with this launch the importance of localisation has been validated to be key one more time. As a matter of fact, Netflix is accessible from Turkey since January 2016 just like the rest of the world. Nevertheless, the ranking of the download of Netflix app has been decreased to more than 500th row around the beg of the year. Then, on Sept, the UI of Netflix has become available also in Turkish, 80% of the catalog has been Turkish subtitled if not dubbed, Finally the cost of service has slightly decreased and the currency of payment has been changed to Turkish Lira from Euro. Following these 3 major changes, the iPad app download ranking has boosted from 500+ to top 50 as seen on the graph below.

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On the other hand, one of the most debated topics was how widely is Netflix content available in Turkey. Let’s have a look details of this. On this link, one can see how much of percentage of the Netflix content in USA is available on various geographies of the world -while keeping content in USA as 100%.- Based on this source, one can access to 25% of the Netflix content in Turkey on TV shows space, while 10,65% of the movies content. The same ratios are around 50% in Ireland 40% in Finland and 30% in Germany. Netflix made a very sisimilarocal launch in Poland around the same time in September. In Poland, more or less the same level of content is available like Turkey.

In short, it’s a fact that Netflix Turkey could not offer the same level of content depth as Netflix USA. But still it’s not far if compared to the most of the countries in Europe. Considering, it’s simply a matter of content rights clearance I don’t see this as a blocker issue as this is core competence of Netflix. If the customer base in Turkey is growing fast, I have no doubt Netflix will continue investing here and making more more content available to Turkish audiences.