Israel, Already a TV Powerhouse, Heads to International Media Showcase

Cannes' MIPTV is the biggest marketplace for buying and selling television shows and other digital content – or, in Israel's specialty, selling concepts for TV shows.

Yanai Yehiel

Already the third-largest provider of content for American television after Britain and The Netherlands, Israel arrived at this week’s MIPTV exhibit in Cannes armed with a host of innovative programming and a new joint venture between a Dutch businesswoman and Israeli TV personality Erez Tal.

Two of Israel’s biggest programming packagers, Keshet Media Group and Dori Media, are running their own booths at the four-day event that opened yesterday, while 14 others are sharing space at a pavilion sponsored by the Israel Export Institute.

With 11,000 visitors from the global television industry attending and 1,600 companies from 100 countries exhibiting, the semi-annual MIPTV is the biggest marketplace for buying and selling television shows and other digital content – or, in what Israel has made its specialty, selling concepts for TV shows.

“The exhibit serves as a window of opportunity for Israeli companies to buy television formats and sell original formats as well as films, documentaries and dramas,” said Mira Geshel, who heads the content unit at the Export Institute.

Among Israel’s biggest successes is Dori Media’s “B’tipul,” which won two Primetime Emmy awards and a Golden Globes during its three-year run as “In Treatment” on HBO. Keshet’s “Hatufim” became the Showtime thriller “Homeland” and has been drawing an average of 1.66 million viewers per episode after four years.

“It took a while, but there’s no question that Hollywood caught on and realized that U.S. audiences were attracted to the distinctive creativity of Israeli companies,” Avi Armoza, CEO of Armoza Formats, the other big Israeli TV formatter, told Fortune magazine yesterday. “The Israeli creative community is very much connected to U.S. television and follows it very closely. Many creators realize the potential that exists in the U.S. and work on their formats with it in mind.”

Tal is in Cannes as part of a new venture with the Dutch businesswoman Nina Storms, who at various times explored buying control of either Israel’s Channel 2 franchisee Reshet or Channel 10. Tal will manage the venture to create new formats, with Keshet joining in and airing some of the ideas on Channel 2, for which it is the other franchisee.

Tal helped develop one of Israel most successful TV formats, the game show “The Vault” (“Hakasefet”).

Among the shows Israeli formatters are offering at MIPTV this week are:

“High Rise Love,” a dating show developed by Artza Productions that helps singles find a mate among colleagues working in a high-rise office building over the course of a single workday;

“Sofa Survivors,” a new reality show by CreateIt Studios that has five people participate in an experiment to see whether it’s possible to live on virtual love for a month, isolated in a room and filmed 24/7;

“ETA,” a docu-reality show from Keshet that follows the stories of people before a meeting at Ben-Gurion International Airport that will change their life.