Turkish Telenovela ‘Mercy’ Hits Hispanic TV

Global Spanish TV trend makes its way to U.S. shores again
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The Turkish TV boom has made its way to Hemisphere Media Group’s Pasiones pay TV telenovela network.

Mercy, a hugely popular soap opera known in Turkish as Merhamet, debuted May 3 at 7 p.m. ET (4 p.m. PT). Cast members include Ahmet Rifat Sungar, Özgü Namal and Ibrahim Celikkol; dialogue is dubbed into Spanish.

The soap aired in Turkey from February 2013 to March 2014. It tells the story of heroine Narin, who overcomes the abuse of her alcoholic father, the disparagement of her mother and brother and the challenges of growing up in a poor Turkish town in order to follow her dreams and go to law school in Istanbul. Once there, she is overwhelmed by the big city’s fast pace and harsh environment, but soon finds comfort when she moves in with a wealthy girl. However, happiness is challenged by betrayal and violence.

“In recent years, Turkish dramas have become a sensation throughout Latin America, and interest in these high-quality drama-packed productions continues to grow among Latin American audiences,” Hemisphere president and CEO Alan J. Sokol said. “We pride ourselves in bringing our viewers the best novelas and dramas from around the world, which is why we are extremely excited to be the first network in the U.S. to air Mercy.”

MundoFox, now RCN-owned MundoMax, has seen success in primetime over the last 18 months with two Turkish soap operas: Suleimán and Sura y Seyit, Amor en Guerra. Azteca, meanwhile, added Kaçak at 10 p.m. weeknights at the start of 2016.

The international market for Turkish soaps heated up in 2013, with Latin America a particularly strong market. El Sultán enjoyed a major marketing push in 2014 for Chile’s Canal 13. The lineup addition came after Thousand and One Nights became a ratings success for rival Chilean network Mega, leading to the addition of two more Turkish imports — Ezel and What is Fatmagul’s Fault.

From Chile, Turkish telenovelas dubbed into Spanish were soon added to networks in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay, and Ecuador.