Keshet keeps up global focus
Keshet International (KI)’s progression in the global market has been prolific if unobtrusive, with the Israeli company building its presence in the US, Germany, and Asia steadily since its establishment in 2012.
The global producer-distributor has built up substantial presence in the UK, where its indie Keshet Productions has been joined by Jamie Munro and Stuart Mullin’s indie incubator Greenbird Media, which backs labels such as Rumpus Media, Tuesday’s Child and Flicker Productions.
At the beginning of this year, Munro and Mullin assumed command of Keshet Productions, in place of the departing Sammy Nourmand. The UK production pipeline is viewed as KI chief executive Alon Shtruzman as an integral part to the continued growth of the company, which marries production and format creation for a curated, boutique catalogue.
While the pandemic has meant that production on over 100 hours of programming was postponed across the group, there was an uptick in the volume of business secured by its sales arm, as broadcasters rushed to plug the gaps in their schedule – a mixed blessing, according to Shtruzman.
Speaking from his base in Los Angeles, Shtruzman estimates that sales were up by around 50% over the period.
“It is tough to talk about positives when you are in the middle of such a terrible situation but it is fair to say that there has been increased demand for finished tape and obviously we did everything we could to meet this,” he says.
He cites ‘feel-good’ programming as the most sought-after, as “hard-hitting documentaries or depressing stories aren’t what people want to watch in the current situation”.
Initially ensuring the safety and well-being of staff (located in LA, London, and Tel Aviv), Keshet next turned its attention to providing them with the technical requirements such as Zoom meetings.
“The pandemic has been a gamechanger – before it was a struggle to schedule a Zoom meeting but in future we will be able to travel less because everyone is much more comfortable conducting video meetings,” says Shtruzman.
The exec says he is happy with the scale and scope of KI’s cross-genre catalogue of which the bulk (circa-80%) is generated from within the Keshet Group or from producers the company part-owns.
Meanwhile, the wave of SVoD services means demand “has never been so big”, exacerbated by the emerging trend of studios’ retaining rights to the shows they control for their own services.
“The verticalisation of the groups also means they are producing a lot of shows for their SVoDs in-house, but the need for third-party content remains strong," says Shtruzman.
One opportunity that has been affected is the opportunity for KI to deficit fund projects in return for the sales rights.
The business launched a £44m fund in 2018 that has pre-invested in scripted projects including Ecosse Films’ BBC political thriller The Trial of Christine Keeler, Total Control, Secret Bridesmaids’ Business and Norwegian-German co-production Furia but Shtruzman considers the shift from services offering programming globally to have limited its potential.
“The streamers have concentrated the market so nowadays you typically do one or two deals and that’s it,” he says. “The buyer takes all the rights so there is very little to monetise and the ability to sell in different regions is reduced.”
Keshet’s ownership of the largest channel in Israel and UK-based Keshet Productions, responsible for shows including The A Word, gives it a valuable outlet for its IP but Shtruzman considers it to be a “completely global” company.
“The network gives us access to Israeli IP and creators, but we are very diversified and develop shows in many different places.”
He adds that while not all broadcasters have launched global services, they are increasingly likely to take distribution rights to their shows in-house.
This makes the guaranteed pipeline of shows – including those developed by Greenbird Media’s network of British indies responsible for the likes of Trucking Hell, Killer Camp, The Hit List and Around the World By Train – even more valuable.