Alon Shtruzman, the CEO of Keshet International (KI), sat down for a keynote conversation with World Screen’s Anna Carugati at NATPE’s L.A. Screenings Independents Producers Summit ahead of the market’s official kick-off today, discussing how the company is responding to changes in the production and distribution landscape.
“TV is in an ongoing change,” Shtruzman noted, “mainly because technology is a big factor. It allows us to always step up in terms of production and distribution. We’re experiencing a complete disruption of everything, from basic consumption habits to the way we sell and make shows.”
The “Netflix effect” is seeing the industry move more towards “bingeable shows, high-end production,” Shtruzman said, and noted the rising prevalence of foreign-language series around the world. “Foreign languages became mainstream. It’s really a great time for content makers. Content has never been so sought after. I think the entire value chain of TV making, from the kind of ideas we’re looking for to the way we produce, sell and distribute, everything is changing.”
KI has long been in the business of selling Israeli IP, made for its sister broadcaster, around the world. “We realized the market is moving towards vertical deals. Seven years ago, a piece of IP like Homeland/Prisoners of War could have been sold for remakes in every language. Homeland as a business is exactly opposite from the way distribution behaves today. Homeland the IP became a local production in six languages. The most famous is the American [version]. The Israeli tape, the original Hatufim/POW, was sold to dozens of countries. Those days are gone. Now you most likely make one deal and that’s it. If Netflix buys a show, that’s it; they buy the show, they take all rights, exploit it for years and it’s gone. In many cases, the big streamers prefer the original to a remake. That gives the opportunity to local writers to get global exposure, but it gives us less opportunities to monetize the same IP. As long as you know how to change your business and behave in this constantly changing environment, the base is growing.”
Shtruzman then talked about KI’s various production hubs around the world. Moving more into production has been key to the company’s growth, he said. “Production is becoming a crucial part of the business,” he said.
The hubs are “in local languages. On the one hand, it’s becoming a global market but on the other, it’s very local. Think global but act local.”
The U.S. hub had two pickups this week, Lincoln for NBC and The Baker and the Beauty, based on an Israeli show, for ABC. There will be a Keshet Studios-produced show on HBO this summer. “It’s a very unique thriller,” was all Shtruzman could say about the secretive project.
“Owning IP is the key for success,” Shtruzman went on to say. “We buy shows, we buy books, we develop scripts, we shoot pilots. For us, it’s all about developing IP. IP is the king. If you have great IP and you know how to package it, there are endless opportunities. We have our own IP, we also opt into IP in early stages. The earlier you opt in, the bigger chunk of the IP you can have.”
The conversation then moved to KI’s activities in India. “India is the next big market. China is complicated because of the regulations. The American market is quite saturated. India is more than emerging; it’s happening. It has a dynamic and professional production business. There’s a legacy of production—there are many writers, directors and producers. So it’s only natural that this shift to high-end TV shows will be expedited in India. They have the industry, they have the talent, and the appetite.”
The OTT landscape in India is exploding, Shtruzman noted, boosting the already busy production sector.
KI has already had success in India with STAR adapting Prisoners of War, while Rising Star has been a hit for Colors. “We have a pretty big presence in India. We have a few new commissions in the market. The appetite is endless and the potential is blue-sky.”
Carugati then asked Shtruzman about Keshet’s approach to taking bets on new entertainment format concepts, as it did with Rising Star and 2025. “It became a strategy for us to take big swings and big risks. That’s a way to stand out for a small country in the Middle East. In general, Israel is all about taking risks. We live in risk-taking. The Israeli high-tech industry is all driven by risk-taking.”
He continued, “If you want to stand out, if you want to win the audience, you need to be unusual, you need to be disruptive. The bar is being pushed up and up.”
Shtruzman then talked about the importance of partnerships. “We used to sell shows, now we’re setting up shows. I used to get a commission; not anymore, now it’s co-development, co-ownership, it’s a much more sophisticated market. Many shows have co-producers. Some shows have more than one network. We see more and more the networks and platforms want to own shows, they want to be more creatively involved. So besides selling IP, we’re also co-developing IP. We come with a piece of IP we both like and create a new show. We just developed a show with NTV in Russia. We developed and co-produced a show with Telemundo. We started with an idea and created a whole show together with the partners. It’s a model that many producers experience now. It’s another business model that is becoming more viable.”
KI has set up a fund to deficit finance scripted shows. It has already announced a collaboration with BBC One for The Trial of Christine Keeler and is working on a title with ABC in Australia. “We’re looking for opportunities to opt-in as financiers. We also use the money for our own shows.”