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Strictly Business Podcast: Keshet’s Alon Shtruzman Talks Global Content ‘Sea Change,’ M&A Prospects

Israel’s Keshet International has seen its TV production and distribution business blossom as the demand among global TV buyers for original content has skyrocketed. But that growth has made the market for producing content more competitive, not less, in the eyes of Keshet International CEO Alon Shtruzman.

In the latest episode of Strictly Business, Variety‘s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of entertainment, Shtruzman discusses the expansion of opportunities as streaming platforms in the U.S. and other major territories drive an expansion of the overall marketplace for TV content.

“It’s a complete sea-change. The way shows are being commissioned and being produced and being watched. Every aspect of the eco-system as we knew it has changed,” Shtruzman says.

Based in Los Angeles, Shtruzman runs the international production and distribution arm for Israel’s dominant Keshet Media Group, headed by Avi Nir. Keshet International (KI) sells programs and formats that come off Keshet’s top-rated commercial TV network in Israel, as well as a range of other projects. Nir recruited Shtruzman to KI in 2012, after the latter established himself as an entrepreneur and executive with a number of Israeli media firms since the 1990s. He also served a stint with Fox International Channels.

In assessing the contemporary sales environment, Shtruzman notes that buyers in emerging territories like Vietnam and Cambodia of late have become aggressive in purchasing original content as platforms multiply. But that same dynamic means that more producers from territories outside the U.S. and U.K. are becoming competitive with formats and series of their own. Keshet’s own story, fueled by with hits like “Homeland” and the “Rising Star” talent competition franchise, is a testament to the opening of the marketplace to new entrants.

“Don’t be confused. It’s not a seller’s market,” Shtruzman says. “It’s a very big eco-system with many opportunities but it’s very hard to sell. You need big talent and volume. It’s very hard to survive as a small player.”

Keshet’s portfolio has reached a size and scale that could make it an attractive target for content-hungry conglomerates at a time of heated media M&A discussions. Shtruzman was cautious in addressing the potential for high-level dealmaking in Keshet’s future. He pointed to Keshet’s recent moves to scoop up smaller production banners including Germany’s Tresor TV Produktions and the U.K.-based incubator Greenbird Media.

“At the moment we’re buyers. Maybe at some point we’ll be sellers,” he says.

Listen to the full interview with Shtruzman:

Strictly Business is Variety‘s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of entertainment. Listen to the podcast below for the full interview, or check out previous “Strictly Business” episodes featuring comedian/actor/producer Kevin Hart, ICM Partners agent Esther Newberg, and HBO chairman/CEO Richard Plepler. A new episode debuts each Tuesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.

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