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Content Ukraine On Demand C21 Digital Screenings


Programming Profile

Ukraine’s StarLightMedia delivering for different audiences with targeted content


Dmitry Troitsky of StarLightMedia discusses the Ukrainian media group’s Content Ukraine On Demand playlist, showcasing a diverse slate from across its national TV channels.


StarLightMedia (SLM) operates seven national broadcasters in Ukraine and produces “a large volume of content each year, a mix of internationally acclaimed formats and original ideas, both in-house and with third-party producers,” explains Dmitry Troitsky, producer, media manager and director of television at the company.


The biggest Ukrainian media group and one of the largest media companies in Eastern Europe, SLM operates male-skewing channel ICTV; STB, aimed at a female audience; and New Channel, which targets 25- to 35-year-olds. It also has international channel ICTV Ukraine, music video television channels M1 and M2, and niche OCE TV.


Troitsky believes looking beyond local content helps drive innovation. “Our productions are very high quality for very competitive budgets. With a long list of interesting ideas to be produced, we’re focusing on international coproductions, OTT commissions and pre-sales, which give us the opportunity to be even braver in our creativity.”


Dmitry Troitsky, Producer, media manager,
director of television, StarLightMedia

SLM’s first playlist title, Bruce (4×45′) for ICTV, is a scripted series in which the quiet life of the eponymous former special forces officer collapses when his son is kidnapped.


“ICTV has been the leading channel in the Ukrainian market for the last 12 months for audiences aged 18-54 and 50-plus, reaching a 9.4% share,” says Troitsky. “Concentrating on crime with comedy elements, Bruce tells the story of a taxi driver whose son is kidnapped together with the son of a millionaire. Not trusting the police and having just three days to save the children, Bruce begins his own investigation, helped by the father of the second boy and a charming con artist. They almost succeed, but the situation gets complicated.”


Detective comedy Marshal (16×26’) takes the next playlist spot. It follows a detective who slips into a coma after an incident during a field operation. His consciousness and soul, leaving his body, move into the homeless dog that followed him around before the accident. The only person who hears his voice and thoughts is a young newbie in the police force. For Troitsky, the appeal is seeing the characters transform.


Bruce (Брюс)

“This story is about changing people. A timid and insecure young lieutenant, having gone through a difficult time, turns into an experienced policeman; and a stiff and cynical misanthrope becomes more humane after moving into a dog’s body.”


The next playlist title is another scripted series, this time for STB. Love in Chains follows a beautiful and clever woman who by the will of her godmother was raised as a lady of noble blood. But now as a bondmaid of a rich landowner, she is someone else’s property. Struggling for her freedom and the right to be happy, she will have to overcome the deaths of her closest friends, endure being the property of a woman who hates her and wants to kill her and survive the popular uprising.


“Being a channel of melodramas, talent and reality shows, STB is a leader among the commercially attractive 35-44 female audience. Its TV series become successful not only on their mother channel, but also elsewhere in CIS and Eastern Europe. The first two seasons of Love in Chains conquered the hearts of TV viewers in more than 20 countries. The third and fourth seasons are currently in production, as a coproduction with Polish TV channel TVP,” says Troitsky.


Love In Chains
Love in Chains (Крепостная)

For Troitsky, the next playlist title was born out of the industry evolving. “Understanding that the media business is no longer only about TV, we created a new department – StarLight Originals – to develop ideas on the borderline of TV and OTT.  Its first project, Early Birds, became a success among traditional TV and digital audiences.”


In the show, an 11th grader throws herself from the school roof at the beginning of term. The story then follows the detective who tries to uncover the reason behind this death, but who doesn’t know that her son, a classmate of the deceased girl, was on the roof at the same time. “The series had a big social impact in Ukraine and helped many teenagers to find a way out, instead of thinking of a suicide,” Troitsky says.


As well as these original dramas, STB, ICTV and New Channel have made their own local versions of internationally acclaimed unscripted formats, including The Bachelor, The X Factor, Got Talent, So You Think You Can Dance and Next Top Model. But it’s SLM’s unscripted originals that take the next playlist positions.


Early Birds
The Early Birds (Первые Ласточки)

Kids Vs Celebs is a new entertainment gameshow in which celebrities and kids compete. Four children aged from seven to 10, each with their own talent in areas including sport, music, science and art, challenge four celebrities. “Kids Vs Celebs is an original entertainment show pitching celebrities and talented kids against each other in battles, proving who’s cooler. The show is in its third season, with a 5% viewer increase from season to season, and is distributed worldwide by international distribution company Small World IFT,” says Troitsky.


Daddy’s House takes the next playlist spot. “An entertaining original reality show, Daddy’s House is where the father switches places with the mother for a week and has to fulfil a number of challenges to win a cash prize. It has been running on STB for 10 seasons, with readymade episodes sold into the CIS territories and the format sold into local production in Lithuania and Poland,” the exec says.


A different family appears in each episode, with the mum going on a one-week vacation while the dad takes her place, doing all her regular chores. The dad’s challenge is to scrupulously follow the schedule by performing all parental and household duties, as well as certain tasks set by his wife, without outside help. If he properly copes with all the tasks, the family wins a cash prize.


Kids VS Celebs (Дети против звезд)

In Exes, the next playlist title, 10 separated couples go through a series of tests to help them rekindle their romance. The couple who pass the tests and get back together receive a large cash prize. “Working with the toughest audience of millennials, New Channel is a leader among the commercially attractive audience of 25- to 35-year-olds. It tells stories through comedy, making its audience laugh even in the darkest days with tips for the future on how to build relationships and a career. Through a series of tests, Exes helps ex-couples to figure out whether they should stay together or separate forever,” says Troitsky.


Head & Tails, a hit travel series with a twist, takes the last playlist spot. Troitsky puts its success down to offering some armchair escapism: “The series helps New Channel’s millennials – and the viewers from 11 countries including Russia, Poland and Israel where the show is sold – to discover the world. Two presenters travel to the most fascinating places across the globe and make a bet. One gets unlimited credit to enjoy the most luxurious vacation the site can offer and the other tries to make their stay as exciting as possible within a US$100 budget.


“Each episode is dedicated to a new destination, from the well-known wonders of the world to gems hidden away from the regular tourist routes.”