ETV: Estonian fiction for the world

Eesti Rahvusringhääling (ERR) is the Estonian public broadcasting company, which is the most established media house in the country. It operates ETV, the oldest TV channel with the largest audience locally and whose focus are news and TV and programs with social values, including high end dramas that are reaching worldwide screens through key partners such us GoQuest Media.

Marje Tõemäe, Head Of Programs, ETV

Mumbai-based distributor has picked up two ERR’s fictions to its catalogue: the spy thriller Traitor and drama Divorce in Peace. Prensario wanted to know more about this Nordic country, so it interviewed ETV’s head of program, Marje Tõemäe about the dynamic of the local TV market, as well as the plans for drama production and international expansion.

‘This is my first experience working with a distribution partner outside of Europe so I am curious to widen our horizons. My initial impression is inspiring: we have a mutual understanding of the goals and working processes, so I am delighted that we are working together. The European market is full of high-level drama, so it is great to discover what the potential is outside of Europe for our drama series and they are the perfect partner to tap into this knowledge with their wealth of experience’, she adds.

About international sales expectations, she continues: ‘I am intrigued to see what the international potential is for these kinds of dramas and then to take this knowledge to create new content. We are a small country with one million native Estonian speakers, so it is important to see and discover what our niche would be in this market. This distribution partnership allows us to establish a presence and be an integral part of the global TV landscape’.

Spy thriller Traitor

Tõemäe underlines that those dramas are not the only ones produced by the pubcaster: ‘We have a couple of long-running dramas such us Luck 13, a social weekly drama which has been running for 28 seasons or the comedy USSR, which takes us back to the ’80s and ‘90s and to the period when we were a part of the Soviet Union. Both are very popular but our new dramas distributed by GoQuest have been very welcomed and a hit with our audiences’.

About the local TV market and own productions, the executive describes: ‘We see that linear has more power in reflecting present events, with the “here and now” element. It also plays an immense role in broadcasting large events which can bring people together. But on the other hand, we are also seeing that the younger generation do not have tv-sets anymore, they are therefore totally different media users’.

And she completes: ‘New VOD platforms and catch-up services continue to be game players, and thus we are more and more influenced by global platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, NENT, etc.

Drama Divorce in Peace

The fact is that the media landscape is moving very fast, and we are constantly searching for new content and ways to communicate with people and with society’: ‘We have established a good base for our in-house productions, but we are also focusing on co-productions with local partners, with international shows coming in as acquisitions. We are very happy about our own formats such as Rocket69, which discovers up and coming science stars and Stars of Classics, the show promotes classical music’, says the executive.

‘We have also acquired the format Celebrity Identity, a Danish lifestyle series that takes us into the homes of celebrities and looks at the way we live. It is hosted by a culture expert, an architect, and a lifestyle expert who give their professional advice to widen our knowledge about the things we have in our homes. They also visit the homes of celebrities to try and guess who lives there from what they find’, concludes Tõemäe.