Keshet was founded in 1993 as one of the three concessionaires, along with fellow broadcaster Reshet and Telad, to share airtime on Israel’s Channel 2. It launched its first drama, “Bat Yam, New York” in 1996 and that same year helped Channel 2 become the most-watched channel in Israel.
That wasn’t too much of a feat, considering that Israel only has two local stations, one of which is government-run. But it was a nod toward Keshet’s future of dominating the market and continually pushing itself to the head of the pack.
The company began trading in formats in 2001, selling “The Vault,” an interactive reality/game show, to 18 territories. In 2003 it launched the wildly popular “Eretz Nehederet” (What a Wonderful Country), a spoofy, satirical program in the vein of “Saturday Night Live.” “Eretz Nehederet” this year celebrated a decade of airtime.
In 2007, Keshet began looking internationally for expansion. A year later, Keshet forged forward with reality television, bringing an Israeli version of “Big Brother” to local screens and seeing it become the most-viewed program of the year. That same year, they launched Mako, Keshet’s digital arm, whose website, mako.co.il, is now the third most-trafficked in the country.
Keshet made history in 2010, when it launched Gideon Raff’s program “Hatufim” (Prisoners of War), about three Israeli soldiers returning from captivity after 17 years. The series was sold, based on Raff’s scripts and before being shot in Israel, to 20th Century Fox, becoming “Homeland” in 2011. Overall, the format was sold to over 20 other territories.
In 2012, Keshet ramped up its international efforts, marking a palpable shift in the company’s focus. Keshet Intl., Keshet Media Group’s distribution and production arm, cut the tape on its U.K. office that November. Six months later, in May, Keshet Intl. joined with Northern Pictures to launch Keshet Australia. Keshet Canada came one month later.
Keshet, says CEO Avi Nir, is focused not just on creating innovative content but also expanding the ways and methods content is delivered. In August, after two years of technological research, Keshet overhauled the concept of reality competition with its launch of “Rising Star,” an innovative dual-screen program that allows viewers to influence the action of a singing competition, live, via an integrated mobile app. The program, which will be distributed at Mipcom, debuted Sept. 17 in Israel, grabbing seven times the market share of its timeslot rival.
Using a new app, the public at home serves as the show’s judge. In all, 600,000 votes were cast during the live broadcast, 10 times more than any previous shows.