Name: Kai Gahler
Title: acquisitions executive, Kanal 2, Estonia
TBI: What channels do you buy for and how are they different?
We buy for three channels. The biggest is Kanal 2, which is a mainstream commercial TV channel and the most watched TV channel in Estonia. We mostly air local shows in primetime, but there is a need for acquired content in other time zones. We also have two small basic cable channels: Kanal 11 for females and Kanal 12 for males. Their programming relies mostly on acquired content.
TBI: What genre or slot on your schedule is the most difficult to buy for and what is simplest?
The hardest thing is to find primetime-suitable acquired content. The market is full of quality dramas, but they tend to be catered more towards niche audiences. We, on the other hand, need titles with a more broad appeal and it seems that there are not enough titles of that kind available.
Probably one of the easiest areas for us to acquire are Turkish dramas that we air in access prime. As other markets started airing them before us, we can follow their lead and pick the series with the best track record.
TBI: What is your focus at NATPE Europe?
The main focus is to find fresh content that we might miss during a bigger and more hectic market like MIPCOM. Also, as NATPE is cozier, you get to spend more time with other sellers and buyers. This helps to form better relationships and understand each others’ needs more clearly.
TBI: Do you mainly shop at the mid- to large-size distributors or are you looking for something else?
We have long business relationships with all kinds of distributors ranging from local mini-companies that sell only one or two titles to huge studios with whom we have bigger packages. The content matters, not the size of the company.
TBI: How good is the content coming out of the CEE? Does this affect how much programming from beyond the region you acquire?
Until now our main focus on the acquisitions side has been content in English, German and, occasionally, the Russian language, and Turkish drama entered our world some years ago.
We have not really tried CEE content, but our first attempt began at the start of this year – we have aired Burlive Vino in a daily daytime slot. This Slovakian romantic drama has a lovely story with matching great production values. So far the ratings have been modest, but it takes time for the viewers to get accustomed to a series from a ‘brand new’ country. I am positive people will soon get more used to it. In the end, storytelling counts.
TBI: How important is original programming to your audience?
On our main channel the most watched shows are local programmes and almost all of our primetime on Kanal 2 is local. It is the cornerstone of our programming and our viewers clearly value these shows. It does not matter if it is a show, reality or drama – Estonians love Estonian content!
TBI: Did you attend the LA Screenings?
The role of American series has decreased during the past decade, so there is no need for us to attend the LA Screenings. Also, the screeners are available very soon after the event.