Eli Uzan, the 33-year-old chairman of Screenz, the cross-media digital powerhouse behind Israel’s popular, interactive singing format “Rising Star,” says he has about two years before old age tamps down his ability to think creatively. At least that’s what his favorite author, Douglas Adams, wrote in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” a book Uzan gives near-biblical status.
“Anything that is invented when you are between 15 and 35 is new and revolutionary,” Uzan summarizes. “But anything invented after you are 35 is against the natural order of things. So I think I’m scared to be old.”
Uzan began his career early, founding the Box group, one of Israel’s leading content and new-media firms, at the tender age of 21. He dabbled in physics courses in college, but left to focus on a career that applied technology, strategy and cross-media products in service to some of the TV industry’s biggest houses. Two years ago, he launched Screenz, and has partnered with several companies within the Israeli media landscape, including content giant Keshet, for whom he created the interactive technology behind “Rising Star,” the singing competition that launched here in 2013.
What sets “Rising Star” apart is its interactive app, which links home viewers to the live studio action. Decisions are announced in real time, allowing viewers and competitors an equal stake in the program and — critically — demanding auds tune in live in order to play along.
The giants of the tech world have been paying attention. Over the summer, it was announced Google and Screenz were partnering to host the Screenz Real Time Platform, a live, interactive infrastructure where broadcasters and format owners can build live events from their TV programs.
Bolstered by Google’s Cloud Platform, Screenz Real Time can reportedly process 100 million interactions per minute, making it ready for primetime in the biggest markets.
“If you, as a broadcaster, expect me as a viewer to be synced to your schedule, you need to be live. It will not happen if I am not part of the event,” Uzan says. “Linear TV is already dead. It just doesn’t smell yet.”