×

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.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • J. Michael Mendel Dead: 'The Simpsons'

    J. Michael Mendel, 'The Simpsons' and 'Rick and Morty' Producer, Dies at 54

    Animation producer J. Michael Mendel, best known for his work on “The Simpsons” and “Rick and Morty,” has died. The four-time Emmy award-winner was 54. A spokesperson for Adult Swim, the network where “Rick and Morty” airs, confirmed the death in a statement, saying, “All of us at Adult Swim are devastated by the untimely [...]

  • Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell organize

    Emmys: Basic Cable Networks Hold Their Own, With Nat Geo Leading the Way

    The 2019 Emmys were a harsh, recurring reminder for broadcast networks that their awards lunch is being eaten by premium cablers and streaming services featuring buzzy prestige shows. But basic cablers, despite collectively logging a year-over-year decline in statuettes, managed to grab onto some key prizes with standout titles such as “Pose,” “Killing Eve” and [...]

  • A Man Walks Into the Cnn

    CNN Allegedly a Target of Arrested Solider's Terror Plans

    CNN was allegedly discussed as a potential target by a U.S. Army solider who was arrested this weekend after making known his plans for terror attacks, according to court documents released Monday and subsequent press reports. According to documents filed in Kansas federal court, Jarrett William Smith, 24, was charged with distribution of information related [...]

  • Lorne Michaels - Outstanding Variety Sketch

    Despite Dearth of Awards, Broadcasters Benefit From Televising Emmys

    The Emmys are not showing much love to the Big 4 broadcast networks these days — but don’t expect the awards show to move to a streaming service any time soon. Once again, this year’s awards were dominated by cable, premium cable, and streaming platforms. HBO took home the most Emmys with 34 total, while [...]

  • STUMPTOWN - "Forget it Dex, It's

    TV News Roundup: 'Stumptown' Adds Jay Duplass, Zosia Mamet, Zulay Henao 

    In today’s TV news roundup, “Stumptown” books three guest stars and BET announced new premiere dates for two new Tyler Perry projects. DATES BET Networks and Tyler Perry Studios have pushed back the premiere of their original dramas “The Oval” and “Sistas” to Oct. 23. “The Oval,” which has the 9 p.m. time slot, follows [...]

  • '9-1-1: Lone Star' Rounds Out Main

    '9-1-1: Lone Star' Rounds Out Main Cast With Four Series Regulars

    Fox’s upcoming drama “9-1-1: Lone Star” has filled out the remainder of its series regular roles. Natacha Karam, Brian Michael Smith, Rafael Silva and Julian Works have all joined the series alongside previously announced cast members Rob Lowe, Liv Tyler, Jim Parrack, Sierra McClain and Ronen Rubinstein. Karam will play Marjan Marwani, described as an [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content