Shift or Stasis| Vacillation in Turkey’s Popular Global TV Exports: Toward a More Complex Understanding of Distribution
Audience demand for Turkey’s TV series has increased their strength in the regional market and beyond. By mid-2014 more than 70 Turkish TV dramas reached audiences in 75 countries. Some experts have characterized this as neo-Ottoman cool, referring to Turkey’s growing “soft power” role in successfully combining Islam with democracy. However, survey data from 16 Arab countries, previous audience studies, and our in-depth interviews with Istanbul-based producers and distributors refute this. Neo-Ottoman cool does not register the full dynamics of contingent relations between economy, politics, ideology, and media flows. Our research underscores the region’s glocal flexibility and the market articulations overarching Turkey’s soft power ambitions, how the drama genre attracts women cross-culturally, and the limits of notions of cultural proximity.