Prominent Turkish sales company Global Agency, which brought milestone TV series “Magnificent Century” to the world, has more recently been scoring with formats, such as their singing talent show “Good Singers” that has been a primetime hit on TF1 in France.
Now the Istanbul-based company is at MipTV with a new singing show called “Beat Me If You Can,” which is already a hit in Saudi Arabia where Saudi broadcaster SBC has just commissioned a second season.
“When I established Global Agency 15 years ago we started with formats,” says Global Agency chief Izzet Pinto. During its first two years his company was actually just a format distributor. And “then we decided to take Turkish drama abroad,” he notes.
Now that the onslaught of streaming giants such as Netflix, Disney and HBO Max in Turkey has prompted production costs of Turkish dramas to skyrocket, Global Agency – while continuing to sell Turkish dramas – is doubling down on formats. Most of which are originated by Pinto and his sister Gila Kantar, who is Global Agency co-founder, and their team.
They seem to have a knack for it.
“When you launch original formats you own the IP,” points out Pinto. He also notes that “the format business is like a lottery; if you score a hit you can win big, and that is our business model,” he says.
“Good Singers” is based on a format that Pinto created in which celebrities try to pick out who the talented singers are in a group based purely on their appearance, rather than their performance. Besides being a hit on France’s TF1, it’s been adapted in Russia and optioned in a slew of countries including Spain, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, and Israel.
“Beat Me If You Can,” which was created by Kantar, took five years to develop before Global Agency managed to get on air in Saudi.
Renamed “Your Voice is Stronger” by Saudi’s SBC, “Beat Me” is a game show format combining elements of a classic talent show with the board game “Memory.” Basically, ten singers who are not celebrities, are hidden in different colored cube-shaped cabinets, after performing ten seconds of a song “a cappella” on stage. Then, as the singers are randomly brought on stage again to perform duets, a jury of celebrities has to remember which singer is behind which different colored cabinet door.
The grand finale of the first season was recently held live on a Saturday night slot on SBC – which is Saudi Arabia’s public broadcaster and goes out on satellite – was allegedly watched in 22 countries to stellar ratings. Video snippets from the finale got more than 7 million visualizations on TikTok, according to Global Agency.
“Finally it’s on air,” says Pinto. “We have the ratings; we have the footage. Now people can get serious about it because it has a proven track record of success.”