Israel’s Major Export: TV Know-How

Keshet programming now on five continents

For several years, Israel has been at the forefront of countries exporting TV program content to the United States. Keshet, where Showtime’s “Homeland” has its roots, holds the lion’s share of responsibility.

Keshet holds 42% of the Israeli market share and boasts a prolific global distribution and production arm with U.K., Canadian and Australian outposts.

It’s a stamp that works across many cultures and has translated to successful programming on five continents. Keshet Intl. managing director Alon Shtruzman calls it “edgy mainstream,” comparing Keshet’s success to the local technology boom of the 1990s that was exported to Silicon Valley and earned Israel the nickname of “Start-Up Nation.”

“Israel is lacking natural resources. We don’t have any gas or oil, and we hardly have any land — it’s a small country,” says Shtruzman. “So what we sell is brains. The same way we sell technology, whether it’s software or hardware, we’re also selling media.”

What sets Keshet apart, say its execs across the world, is a desire to push content straight to the sharpest corner of the razor’s edge. Such was the case in “BeTipul,” reborn in the U.S. as HBO’s “In Treatment” and known as the first Israeli format to truly strike gold abroad; in groundbreaking “Homeland” ancestor “Prisoners of War,” which earned such accolades that it has now been released to international audiences with English subtitles; and even with popular gameshow fare like “Deal With It.”

“There is a creative energy and storytelling that flows through many Keshet shows that appeal to North American audiences,” says Keshet Canada exec director Mark Rubinstein.

Keshet comprises a broadcaster on Israel’s Channel 2, a music channel, digital arm Mako (which includes a mobile site, e-commerce, and the cross-platform venture Screenz) and Keshet Intl.

Prisoners of War” creator Gideon Raff is in Morocco lensing a high drama series for FX, “Tyrant,” which is being helmed by David Yates and for which Keshet is serving as an executive producer. Unscripted formats include “Dear Neighbors,” which was sold to 13 countries, “Girlfriends” (beloved in the U.K.), talent show “Master Class,” the family game show “Sure or Insure” and talent competition fare like “The Successor,” fronted internationally by Uri Geller.

Last year, Keshet inaugurated an annual international conference on innovation in television, dubbed INTV, that brings  several leading TV and new-media execs to Jerusalem to hash out their visions on the future of content in the digital age. The time is ripe, Shtruzman says, for Keshet to be leading the way in envelope-pushing TV.

“U.S. television has really evolved over the last decade, for many reasons including the amazing explosion of cable,” he says. “It’s a platform for creators to dare more. … For us, it’s like a theme park.”

More TV

  • B. Smith

    B. Smith, TV Host, Author and Restaurateur, Dies at 70

    B. Smith, a former TV host, restaurateur and author, died of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease on Saturday night in her home in Long Island, New York. Her husband announced the news in a Facebook post on Sunday morning. She was 70. “Thank you to Dr. Sam Gandy, East End Hospice and additional caregivers who helped us [...]

  • Our Cartoon president

    'Our Cartoon President' Boss R.J. Fried: 'The World Feels More Cartoonish Than Ever'

    As the Democratic presidential race heats up with each passing moment, the writers’ room at Showtime’s “Our Cartoon President” is constantly on its toes to keep up with the news cycle. “Bernie had his heart attack, and Mike [Leech, writer/producer] says, ‘At “The Simpsons” they never walk into work and say “Mr. Burns had a [...]

  • Claire Denis attends the 32nd European

    Claire Denis and Phedon Papamichael Join Doha Film Institute's Qumra Lineup

    The Doha Film Institute has added French auteur Claire Denis and Oscar-nominated cinematographer Phedon Papamichael (“Nebraska”) to the lineup of star talent who will act as mentors for the Qumra Masters program during its upcoming Qumra event dedicated to fostering fresh Arab film fare that is opening up to TV projects. They join previously announced [...]

  • Rihanna

    Rihanna Pleads for Equality at NAACP Image Awards: 'Tell Your Friends to Pull Up'

    Rihanna was the recipient of the NAACP President’s Award. The honor is bestowed on an entertainer whose commitment to philanthropy is unparalleled. Rihanna, whose chosen charities include the Clara Lionel Foundation, Raising Malawi and UNICEF and was honored as Harvard’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2017, was in attendance for the NAACP Image Awards show, [...]

  • Bernie Sanders, Jane Sanders. Democratic presidential

    Bernie Sanders Projected to Win Nevada Democratic Caucus

    Bernie Sanders is now projected to win the Nevada caucus. Per the Associated Press, Sanders has captured 54% of the delegates with 4% of precincts reporting on Saturday afternoon. Joe Biden is currently in a distant second with 17.8%, while Elizabeth Warren rose to third with 10%. Pete Buttigieg is in fourth place with 8.7%, [...]

  • Lizzo51st Annual NAACP Image Awards, Arrivals,

    NAACP Winners 2020: The Complete List

    Lizzo was named Entertainer of the Year at the 51st NAACP Image Awards on Saturday. The singer-rapper edged out Angela Bassett, Billy Porter, Regina King and Tyler Perry for the night’s top prize. Warner Bros.’ legal drama “Just Mercy,” meanwhile, nearly swept the top film awards, taking home best motion picture, ensemble, best actor (Michael [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content