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Friday! TV Channel

Programming Profile

That Friday feeling

Nikolay Kartozia, general director of GPM Entertainment-owned Russian broadcaster Friday TV, reveals the secrets of the channel’s success and its plans for global expansion.


What are Friday TV’s domestic and international strategy and goals, and how have these been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic?
The main focus of our local strategy is in the formation of hybrid television and production of shows that turn into brands. We create hybrid television, crossing it with the internet. Top Russian bloggers become ambassadors of Friday TV, while we turn our hosts into popular bloggers. We launch projects that can easily work online. We live in two spheres, linear and digital, which allows us to significantly broaden the audience. Besides, Friday TV produces only ‘brand’ shows. We do not fill our schedule with useless content, we create only hits, which have the potential to return to our channel for years to come.


As for the international strategy, a few years ago I started to develop a line of original reality shows to be presented worldwide. Today, Friday TV is the main producer of reality shows in Russia. We are more than ready to promote these shows internationally. And now we are actively developing with a view to selling our ready-made programmes and formats to buyers worldwide.



What are Friday TV’s expansion plans in Europe and the US?
We are in negotiations about the sales of our formats and programmes with leading international production studios and OTT platforms. We are actively present in all leading industry markets and our shows are sold into many different countries. One of the most recent deals covered the series Melodrama and the reality programme Instagram Girls and those shows are now available on Amazon Prime Video.


At the moment, we are in negotiations with companies in 10 countries regarding the sales of our series and reality franchises, and five of them are at the final stages. In addition, we collaborate with the world’s leading format distributors. We have a big sales team that has established relations with channels and platforms worldwide. We are waiting for the international release of four reality shows and one series in five countries in the upcoming season.


What are the coproduction opportunities with Friday TV and what do you look for in a copro partner?
We constantly analyse the market in the hunt for the best reality ideas worldwide, so any successful reality producer is our potential partner. We can coproduce, we can acquire a format for Russia and we can offer our reality shows that have an international potential. Reality is our god. Also, we are interested in collaboration on productions with a similar concept to Fort Boyard, ones that have an amazing location, an organised process and ready-made solutions, so we could bring in the celebrities to participate in the show. We’re looking for fresh ideas in this direction. One Fort Boyard is not enough for the whole of Russia.


Instagram Girls
Instagram Girls

What’s driving the burgeoning TV production scene in Russia?
Friday TV is the only Russian channel that has exhibited stable growth for the seven years of its existence at a time when the other channels are losing ratings; and the only channel that makes more money than the large free TV channels.


With all this in mind, we can firmly say the main driver of TV production in Russia is excellent reality shows. A whole generation grew up watching reality shows. They’re no longer limited to the 14- to 24-year-old audience. Now there are people up to 40 years old, with a substantial income and maximum love and trust for the genre and language of reality TV. These people don’t trust the official news, they don’t watch didactic documentaries. They want the reality shows, as they believe in their honesty. There’s also a great perspective for celebrity gameshows. Not the old stars of forgotten television but the celebrities popular in two spheres – they are super bloggers and very popular hosts at the same time, the so-called hybrid hosts.


In addition, modern sitcoms have a future. Not the old three-wall sitcoms but modern, funny, bold, mischievous, trendy sitcoms and dramedy – because Russians like bold rebels.


How is demand for Russian content changing internationally?
At the moment, Russia is at the tail end of the international TV industry, the interest for content is low. So, it’s more about the unit sales and not about a developed market for Russian content. It requires a lot of work. You can’t just create genius content and wait for people to come to you. You need to go the international markets, meet people, build stands, give interviews. Russia has only started its way to the viewers worldwide. I don’t want to sound presumptuous, but currently we are the champions of Russian content sales within our industry.