In search for next big hit, Israel hosts first TV franchise confab
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In search for next big hit, Israel hosts first TV franchise confab

At TV Formats Conference in Jaffa, media executives, buyers the world over are on the lookout for another series like ‘Homeland’

A promotional image for Season 4 of "Homeland," based on the Israeli series "Prisoners of War."  (Promotional image)
A promotional image for Season 4 of "Homeland," based on the Israeli series "Prisoners of War." (Promotional image)

Israel is becoming a world leader in exporting content and selling television franchises — known as TV formats — to the global market. The country’s international successes include such popular shows as Homeland, In Treatment and the teenage series The Greenhouse.

Israeli content creators are known for their risk taking, their ability to deliver high concepts on low budgets, a knack for emotional storytelling and a good sense of comedy. They are also adaptable when it comes to working with other countries and markets.

TV formats are part of a growing Israeli content industry, which currently brings in approximately $380 million a year.

Capitalizing on this success, the Israel Export Institute held the first International TLV Formats Conference on September 19-20 in the port city of Jaffa. Co-sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economy and Industry, the conference brought together local exporters and creators with international television industry buyers and executives.

“The main reason for the conference is to bring Israeli creativity to the world,” said Amos Neumann, COO of Armoza Formats.

Assaf Blecher, left, and Keren Shahar from Keshet International at the TLV Formats Conference, held on September 19 and 20 in Jaffa, Israel. (Ronit Bezalel)
Assaf Blecher, left, and Keren Shahar from Keshet International at the TLV Formats Conference, held on September 19 and 20 in Jaffa, Israel. (Ronit Bezalel)

At the conference, Israeli networks and distribution companies unveiled their latest series and formats. Armoza pitched three formats, including Born to Be a Chef, a cooking contest for children. Dori Media Group unveiled The Best of All, a trivia show based on the collective wisdom of crowds.

Reality shows about pregnancy proved popular. Keshet International had 17 new titles, including Man Birth, a reality series where men experience pregnancy. Assaf Gil of Gil Formats, Ltd. pitched Pregnant and Platonic, featuring 12 singles who meet to become platonic co-parents. Gil explained that the show was inspired by his own life.

TLV Formats included a “Pitch Your Format” competition, which let industry newcomers present innovative TV series ideas to an international panel of jurors. Createit Studio’s Shy Barmeli and Ori Dror won the competition with Play Date, a reality show that brings together children for adventures.

Another notable idea included Family vs. Stereotype, a reality format that challenges prejudice within families. This show was created by three recent graduates of IDC Herzliya, Noam Nizrad, Rottem Gheriani and Ilan Abel. Although they didn’t win, they did glean a lot of interest from international buyers.

The second day of the conference featured afternoon pitch sessions where creators met face to face with global buyers. The conference was buzzing with creators looking to sell content, and buyers looking for the next Homeland.

“The next big thing has moved on,” said Clair Thompson of K7 Media, referring to the fact that everyone is searching for another smash success like Homeland. “That’s not a bad thing. Now there are a lot of good medium-sized shows coming out of Israel.”

For Ofir Brown, the ability to pitch to global buyers in Israel was a dream come true. Brown pitched Dr. Z, an animated cartoon for the adult market based on sexologist and stand-up performer Dr. Zachi Ben Zion. He has been pursuing this format for nine years and hasn’t been successful attracting Israeli interest. He met with four buyers, and is hoping that this will bring a sale.

Over 300 people attended the 2016 TLV Formats conference. Notable attendees included Adam Berkowitz, the co-head of CAA’s Television Department in the United States, Ramzi Gabai, the chairman of the Israel Export Institute, Assaf Gil, the chairman of Gil Formats, Avi Armoza, the founder and CEO of Armoza Formats, and Nadav Palti, the President and CEO of Dori Media Group.

The founders of the conference hope that it will become an annual event, showcasing Israel’s talent for years to come.

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