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Turkish television dramas (Turkish: televizyon dizileri) are wildly popular both in Turkey and internationally, and place among the country's most well known economic and cultural exports.[1][2] The television drama industry has played a pivotal role in increasing Turkey's popularity in the Balkans, the Caucasus, Central Asia, Pakistan, Iran and the Arab world.[3] In a survey carried out in 16 Middle Eastern countries by the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, three out of four of those surveyed said they had seen a Turkish television series.[4] Turkish television shows are almost always available in multiple languages, dubbed or subtitled to fit the target country's language. The success of soap operas has boosted tourism as well, as visitors are keen to see the locations used for their favourite shows.[5] The Turkish soap opera's immense international popularity has been widely commented on as a social phenomenon.[6]

Turkish dramas feature relatively high production values, with average production costs of nearly $100,000 per hour for high quality series, compared to $35,000 to $40,000 for Arab productions.[7] Since 2001, 65 Turkish television series have been sold abroad, bringing in over $50 million to the booming Turkish television industry.[8] In 2012, Turkish soap opera exports were worth $130 million,[9] up from just $1 million in 2007.[10] Turkish series are mostly produced in Istanbul, as television companies chose to settle there after the wave of liberalization for private television in the 1990s.[11]

Turkish television channels producing drama series include TRT, Kanal D, SHOW, STAR, ATV, FOX, tv8, Samanyolu and Kanal 7.[10] The Turkish drama market is marked by stiff local competition: out of the 60 dramas produced every year in the country, almost 50% don't run for longer than 6 episodes due to the strong competition among the different local channels, resulting in the high-quality of the productions and contributing to their popularity.[12] Some Turkish dramas are more appealing to women, while some action series attract male audiences, which helps attract different types of advertisers for different viewerships.[7] Some series have political overtones, including Ayrılık, which depicts the daily life of Palestinians under Israeli military occupation.[13] Despite this, Islamic conservatives in many Middle Eastern countries have condemned Turkish series as "vulgar" and "heretical" to Islam.[14]

The most successful series in Turkey is Aşk-ı Memnu, which has broken rating records there.[15]

International popularity[edit]

In 2015, is reported that the four Turkish series most successful around the world are Muhteşem Yüzyıl, Fatmagül'ün Suçu Ne?, Aşk-ı Memnu and Binbir Gece.[16] Also, the most popular Turkish actor around the world is Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ, [17] and the most popular Turkish actrees around the world is Beren Saat.[18][19]

Balkans and Southeastern Europe[edit]

Turkish TV shows are widely successful all over the Balkan Region. The most watched show in Bosnia and Herzegovina was Muhteşem Yüzyıl (Magnificent Century). In Kosovo, the most popular TV shows in December 2012 were Fatmagül'ün Suçu Ne? (What is Fatmagül's Fault?), which ranked top of all programmes and Aşk ve Ceza (Love and Punishment), which came in third according to data by Index Kosova. In Serbia, research from January 2013 indicates that the top two Turkish shows in TV were Muhteşem Yüzyıl, which ranked fourth, and Öyle Bir Geçer Zaman Ki (As Time Goes By), which came in seventh. Serbian sociologist Ratko Božović explains this popularity by pointing at the traditional, patriarchal values of the Turkish shows, and the many cultural and linguistic similarities between Turkey and the Balkan countries: "The mentality depicted in those shows has to do with a traditional understanding of morality that people in Serbia remember at some level". According to him, all Balkan countries have seen dramatic changes in terms of family life, and the Turkish shows help them recall value systems that now seem lost.[20]

In Macedonia, Öyle Bir Geçer Zaman Ki (As Time Goes By) ranked in January 2013 the top in terms of viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.[20] In fact, Turkish shows are so successful in Macedonia that the government has passed a bill to restrict broadcasts of Turkish series during the day and at prime time in order to reduce the Turkish impact on Macedonian society.[21]

They are also widely watched by Bulgarian viewers.[22] Nova Televizia broke the record for viewer numbers when it started broadcasting the Turkish soap opera Binbir Gece. The channel then decided to broadcast another Turkish show, Dudaktan Kalbe.[23]

The series Binbir Gece (One Thousand and One Nights) became a primetime hit in Bosnia, Montenegro and Macedonia, as well as in Romania, Albania and Greece.[24] It has increased the popularity of Istanbul as a tourist destination among Croatians, and led to a greater interest in learning Turkish.[25]

In Slovakia, the popularity of Turkish series has improved the public image of Turkey itself.[26]

Turkish soap operas are also popular in Greece.[2][27] The Greek orthodox Bishop Anthimos has criticised Greek fans of Turkish soap operas.[28] Yabancı Damat (The Foreign Bridesgroom) was one of the first Turkish series to become popular in Greece.[29]

Arab world[edit]

Turkish dramas are in demand in the Arab world.[7] They are prevalent on Egyptian television, and are popular among women in particular.[30]

Turkish soap operas began to rise in popularity across the Arab world in 2008, when Waleed bin Ibrahim Al Ibrahim began buying up Turkish dramas for his Middle East Broadcasting Center. Instead of dubbing the shows in classical Arabic, they were rendered in Syrian Arabic, a dialectal variant readily understood by ordinary viewers across the Middle East.[31]

Led by Gümüş (known as Noor in the Arab market), a wave of Turkish melodramas made their way onto Arab televisions, wielding a kind of soft power.[32] The show violated the local conservative cultural norms, showing some Muslim characters drinking wine with dinner and engaging in premarital sex.[33] The Arabic-dubbed finale of the Turkish soap opera Gümüş (Silver), aired on August 30, 2008, was watched by 85 million viewers.[34] In 2008, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh issued a fatwa against channels that broadcast Gümüş, saying anyone who broadcast it was "an enemy of God and his Prophet".[14]

In 2013, the most popular Turkish show is Fatmagül'ün Suçu Ne?, Aşk-ı Memnu and Muhteşem Yüzyıl.

Fatmagül'ün Suçu Ne? has increased the popularity of Istanbul as a tourist destination among Arabs.[35]


Turkish soap operas have become very popular in Afghanistan, ratings going higher than the traditional Indian Soap operas/Dramas that Afghans watched. TOLO, a TV station in Afghanistan. The most popular Turkish show is Fatmagül'ün Suçu Ne? (What is Fatmagül's Fault?).[36] Another series as Öyle Bir Geçer Zaman Ki (As Time Goes By), Beni Affet (Forgive Me), Effet, Aşk-ı Memnu (Forbidden Love), and Adını Feriha Koydum are popular too.[37]


Turkish television drama is extremely popular in Iran, where they are dubbed into Persian. Among the most popular series are Aşk-ı Memnu and Ezel.[38]


Turkish series are also popular in Pakistan. Aşk-ı Memnu, which has broken ratings records in Turkey,[39][40] aired on the television channel Urdu1 in Pakistan, and has topped ratings being the most successful Turkish Series there.[41] The second most popular series is Fatmagül'ün Suçu Ne?[42] that aired on the same channel, the third best television series is Muhteşem Yüzyıl (Magnificent Century)[42][43] these top three TV Series are said to be the most famous ones ranking highest ratings in terms of Trps(Television Rating Points). According to Pakistani rating network, "Media logic", Aşk-ı Memnu ranked 7.9Trp on average and got 11.99Trp on its Final Episode, Fatmagül'ün Suçu Ne? ranked 6.9-7.6Trp on average and got 10.7Trp on its Final episode.However it is reported that Muhteşem Yüzyıl ranked around 7.0 to 8.0 Trps on Average. However shows like Adını Feriha Koydum, Karadayı and İntikam were also popular in Pakistan.

Popularity of the Turkish serials was met by controversy: Pakistan's entertainment industry complained that the airing of Turkish and other foreign soaps diverts funding from local productions. Furthermore, religious conservatives in Pakistan have denounced the allegedly un-Islamic nature of the shows.[44] A Senate committee that oversees information and broadcasting has condemned such shows for their allegedly "vulgar content" and contrary to the Pakistan's Muslim traditions.[45] It was also reported that TV series Aşk-i-Mennu, Fatmagül'ün Suçu Ne?, Muhteşem Yuzyil and Adını Feriha Koydum Have aired once agan after its ending due to immense popularity and major demands.


State-owned television channels in Uzbekistan have removed Turkish soap operas from their and because of the "rebellious nature" of some of the fictional characters.[46]

The Swedish public broadcaster SVT acquired the series Son (The End), becoming the first major broadcaster in Western Europe to buy a Turkish drama.[47]

According to Kosovo's index the most popular TV series there is Fatmagül'ün Suçu Ne?

In Latin America, the most popular Turkish shows are Fatmagül'ün Suçu Ne?, and Binbir Gece.[48]

Running time[edit]

An episode of a popular Turkish television drama from the 2010s is usually between 90 and 120 minutes in length (excluding advertisements), which is much longer than a typical episode of an American or Western European series. However, when shown in the Balkans and southeastern Europe, Turkish series are mostly cut into episodes not exceeding 60 minutes.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jenna Krajeski. "Turkey: Soap Operas and Politics". Pulitzer Center. Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  2. ^ a b Moore, Robbie. "Soap Opera Diplomacy: Turkish TV in Greece". The International. Retrieved 13 February 2013. 
  3. ^ "Television drama enhances Turkey's popularity in Arab world". Xinhua. 2011-04-09. 
  4. ^ "Turkey has a star role in more than just TV drama". The National. 2012-02-08. 
  5. ^ "Fast Track - Desperate soap star for a day". BBC News. 2012-12-21. Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  6. ^ Alzafeeri, Ahmad. "Turkish Soap Opera and Kuwaiti audiences". Aberystwyth University. 
  7. ^ a b c "Challenge of the Turkish soap operas". GulfNews.com. 2012-04-01. Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  8. ^ "The soft power of Turkish television". SETimes.com. 2011-07-23. 
  9. ^ "Turkish Soap Operas: The Unstoppable Boom". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "Turkish ‘TV series spring’ continues". Hürriyet Daily News. 2012-10-17. 
  11. ^ Paris, Julien. "A Geographical Approach Of Creative Industries: The Case Of Tv Production In Istanbul" (PDF). 
  12. ^ "The Heyday of Turkish Content". ttvMediaNews. 2012-10-10. 
  13. ^ Nadia Bilbassy Charters. "Leave it to Turkish soap operas to conquer hearts and minds in the Arab world". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  14. ^ a b "Saudi scholar issues TV death fatwa - Middle East". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  15. ^ "Turquía sueña con el amor prohibido". La vanguardia. Retrieved September 15, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Dünyada En Çok İzlenen 10 Türk Dizisi". televiziondizisi. Retrieved September 15, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Türk Dizilerinin En Başarılı Erkek Oyuncuları". Televizyondizizi. August 14, 2015. Retrieved October 2, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Türk Dizilerinin En Başarılı Kadın Oyuncuları". televiziondizisi.com. August 14, 2015. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Türk Dizilerinin En Başarılı Kadın Oyuncuları". televizyongazetesi. Retrieved August 16, 2015. 
  20. ^ a b "Turks bewitch the Balkans with their addictive soaps". Balkan Insights. Retrieved 2013-05-03. 
  21. ^ "Macedonia bans Turkish soap operas". Hurriyet Daily News. Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  22. ^ "New Turkish Slavery?". Christopher Buxton. Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  23. ^ "Turkish soap operas take Bulgaria by storm". Hürriyet Daily News. 
  24. ^ "Soap power: The sweeping success of Turkish television series". Oxford Business Group. 
  25. ^ "Retailers cashing in on Croatia´s obsession with Turkish soap". Croatian Times. 2010-09-30. 
  26. ^ "Turkish "Soap" Power...". International Strategic Research Organization. 
  27. ^ "Turkish soap operas popular in Greece because of cultural similarities". Today's Zaman. 2012-12-02. Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  28. ^ "Bishop Anthimos Lashes Turkish Soap Fans". Greek Reporter. 2012-10-30. Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  29. ^ "Daze of Our Lives". Odyssey.gr. Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  30. ^ "Turkey’s soap operas touch Egypt’s heart". Daily News Egypt. 2013-01-10. Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  31. ^ Owen Matthews (2011-09-05). "Turkish Soap Operas Are Sweeping the Middle East". Newsweek and The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  32. ^ "Turks Put Twist in Racy Soaps". New York Times. 2010-06-17. 
  33. ^ "The Islamic World's Culture War, Played Out on TV Soap Operas - David Rohde". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  34. ^ Buccianti, Alexandra. "Dubbed Turkish soap operas conquering the Arab world: social liberation or cultural alienation?". Arab Media & Society. Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  35. ^ "Fatamagul lures arab tourists". The National. Retrieved September 16, 2015. 
  36. ^ "Beren Saat Afgan Kadınlarını Uyarıyor". Dizisifilm. Retrieved September 15, 2015. 
  37. ^ http://www.tolo.tv/
  38. ^ "Iranian officials failing to stop of Turkish TV series". Hurriyetdailynews. Retrieved September 16, 2015. 
  39. ^ Turquía sueña con el amor prohibido
  40. ^ Soap Operas in the Arab World Yield Their Own Soft Power
  41. ^ [1]
  42. ^ a b [2]
  43. ^ [3]
  44. ^ Some in Pakistan threatened by Turkish TV invasion
  45. ^ Yusuf, Huma (2013-01-10). "Trashy Turkish TV Shows Can't Distract Pakistanis From Reality". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  46. ^ "Turkish Soap Operas Taken Off Air In Uzbekistan". Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty. 
  47. ^ "Sweden’s SVT buys hit Turkish drama". TBI Vision. 2012-09-27. 
  48. ^ "Rating 2014: El año que privilegió a Mega". latercera. Retrieved September 15, 2015.  ""Kara Para Aşk": Nueva turca de Mega baja su rating". Fotech. Retrieved September 16, 2015.  "¿El principio del fin de las telenovelas turcas? Rotundo éxito del final de "Fatmagül" no se estaría dando en las otras producciones en pantalla". cambio. Retrieved September 16, 2015.  "Fatmagül superó a 'Al fondo hay sitio' en el rating". Trome.pe. Retrieved September 16, 2015.  "Las novelas turcas lideran el rating en Uruguay". republica.com.uy. Retrieved September 16, 2015. 

External links[edit]

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