How ETC Channel staged a Turkish âinvasionâ on Phl TV
Wilson with director Brillante Mendoza and Sen. Loren Legarda and the rest of the team of Taklub walking the red carpet at the 2015 Cannes International Film Festival.
How ETC Channel staged a Turkish ‘invasion’ on Phl TV
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - October 30, 2020 - 12:00am

While most companies would stick to tried-and-tested formulas during these challenging times, Solar Entertainment Corporation’s subsidiary, ETC Channel, took a risk and presented Tagalized Turkish drama series as the initial offering of their ETCerye primetime block.

Kicked off last Sept. 19 was the Turkish rom-com series Everywhere I Go which quickly garnered high ratings: double-digits on the first week for free TV on the 8 p.m. timeslot; and triple-digit ratings for free TV viewers on the second week for the same timeslot.

The dizi (the term for TV series in Turkey), about bossy Demir and charming Selin who suddenly find out they bought the same house, is also a top-rater in the 8 p.m. and 1 p.m. timeslots against their direct competitors on pay TV.

Solar’s big boss Wilson Tieng is confident that they can replicate the success of Everywhere I Go as they air the Emmy award-winning dizi Endless Love, a rich-girl-poor-boy epic romance and the second show to be added to the ETCerye block.

Wilson actually found Turkish dizi by accident or destiny, as the long-time TV/movie mogul prefers to call it.

In December last year, he was in Singapore to attend the Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF) to acquire programs for ETC. K-dramas were on his agenda but he was also on the lookout for something different.

Movie and TV mogul Wilson Tieng frequents international film festivals and markets either to represent his own projects and/or to keep abreast with the trends in the global entertainment scene. Among the festivals he has attended recently are the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) and the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF).

“I am also a big fan of K-dramas but the good ones have already aired on TV. I walked into an office where I thought I had an appointment. It was the wrong office,” Wilson recalled with a laugh. “But it was fate. The owner of the company was there and he introduced to me his line-up of Turkish dramas.”

Having been in the entertainment business since 1981, Wilson had developed a sixth sense of what would click with the Filipino audience. After all, he’s responsible for bringing in The Blair Witch Project, Amelie, American Pie, The Ring and Begin Again, all hit films that possess the rare combination of unique appeal and wide acceptance.

As soon as Wilson saw the previews, he knew that he had discovered a gem! Everything about the Turkish dramas just hit the right notes.

He revealed, “The main characters are so luminously attractive; they remind me of Hollywood stars. The scenery is lush and colorful. Istanbul, where most of the series are shot, is a beautiful garden city… perfect for plantitos and plantitas! And, of course, the technical aspect of their products is topnotch.”

Wilson immediately asked for all the available catalogues and brought them back to Manila where he previewed episodes with the members of his Solar Entertainment team. “They were all totally enamored!” he said of his team’s response.

Airing the Turkish dramas in Tagalized format was the next big step. Wilson seized the opportunity to introduce localized content into the all-English channel.

“I have been toying with that idea since four years ago. It was during the pandemic that foreign content was no longer available so we decided to air our archive of Tagalog movies. The ratings were so encouraging that ad agencies started inquiring. At that point, everyone was on board.”

Wilson’s teams worked hard to launch ETCerye in record time.

“It was done at high and multi-tasking speed,” Edel Pepito, Solar Entertainment Corporation’s vice president for Acquisitions, said of their effort. “Virtual meetings, e-mail correspondence and phone calls both internal and external. We were virtually meeting almost every day with the core team and management.”

She added that it helped that they knew what they wanted.

“So decisions were easy. Within weeks, the dubbing partner was chosen, pre-production was implemented, English scripts were translated and synched for dubbing. Actual dubbing began two weeks after. Voices were ‘auditioned’.”

Most, if not everyone involved in producing these Tagalized Turkish series, have been delighted with the breakthrough format. “We have been told that the vibe at the dubbing sessions has also been high energy and fun!” said Pepito.

(Note: Catch ETCerye Monday to Friday nights; Everywhere I Go has moved up its timeslot to 7:30 p.m.; Endless Love immediately follows at 8:30 p.m. Weekday replays at 1 p.m. with weekend catch-up marathons also beginning at 1 p.m. ETC is seen on SkyCable Ch.16, Cignal Ch. 21, CableLink Ch. 34, DTT Ch. 21 in Metro Manila, and in over 200 cable operators nationwide.)

(E-mail reactions at rickylophilstar@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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