Keshet brings diversified slate to #NATPE Budapest
Paula McHarg, Sales Manager CEE & CIS, Africa, Middle East, Greece and Turkey at Keshet International is here, at NATPE Budapest, offering clients brand new titles from Keshet’s catalog both in the fiction and non-fiction genres. She talks to Yako Molhov about her expectations for this year’s market.
CEETV: Paula, NATPE Budapest has now started. How has Keshet International prepared for this year's market?
Paula: As a longstanding member of the Keshet International (KI) team, I have witnessed a substantial expansion in major markets across the world. Although I am new to working with clients in CEE and CIS, I have been working with clients in Western Europe for a while and I’m excited that now I'm looking after Eastern Europe. This will be my first NATPE Europe, but it follows several recent sales trips to the region which have helped me get a strong feel for what’s in demand and to continue matching content with broadcaster’s needs. This year I have been to Poland and Russia, and met a number of clients at the pitches in London and MIPTV in April.
CEETV: What is your opinion on moving back the market to Budapest? What are your expectations?
Paula: Budapest is a hotbed for the entertainment industry in the CEE region. Lots of key decision makers in the industry are located here, so the market provides excellent access to them.
My agenda is packed with a large number of meetings with the region’s channels, platforms, and producers.
CEETV: What are the latest titles in your catalogue, both fiction and non-fiction?
Paula: Our international hit family drama The A Word--which follows a family after their five-year-old son is diagnosed with autism--has made quite an impact on buyers in the region. Alongside The A Word, KI’s arresting auto fictional series about an Arab Israeli suffering an identity crisis, The Writer has also generated lots of interest and we look forward to announcing deals in the region for both shows soon.
Our Korean romantic comedy, You Will Love Me has also generated a lot of interest with clients in CEE and CIS who are looking for something which lends itself to the popular telenovela format.
KI also has a wide range of non-scripted offerings which we’ll be discussing with clients at NATPE. Walk of Shame Shuttle is a fun and edgy format, in which young revellers make “taxi cab confessions” as they are driven home after an evening out. We’ll also be showcasing Touch--our new cross media brand format--in which gut reaction, sharp eyes and quick fingers can win prizes. The game is based on the simple and visual concept of ‘what's wrong with this picture?’ Available as a TV and mobile game for touch screen devices, Touch is extremely addictive whether you're playing offline, or while watching the show. It is the perfect format for broadcasters to engage and entertain with an extension of their brand to a digital platform, giving them the opportunity to get closer to their audiences.
Battle of the Chefs provides buyers with a fresh spin on the current reality cooking format. It sees the country’s two leading chefs go head to head in a number of culinary challenges in different cuisine capitals around the world, in order to be crowned the best chef. It’s very entertaining and most importantly, it’s country agnostic and easily adapted for a local audience.
CEETV: What is in demand in the CEE region right now? Are your fiction or non-fiction formats selling better?
Paula: Demand is always very healthy for both fiction and non-fiction formats, however as always, buyers are looking for either inexpensive non-scripted shows that look good or at the other end of the scale, the big brand name entertainment shows. We have also seen our fiction catalogue gain significant interest in the region. Timeless, engaging drama works, for example The A Word, is having a big impact due to its light-hearted and sensitive handling of a difficult topic and the humor and authenticity of the family in the series.
Comedies have also proven popular in CIS. Our buddy comedy, Traffic Light has just embarked on its eighth season in Russia (CTC). KI’s gripping spy drama MICE will also be produced in Russia soon.
CEETV: What have been the other recent deals for Keshet International in CEE?
Paula: Girlfri3nds, KI’s reality dating format which has been a ratings hit in Ukraine on the Novy Channel, has just been commissioned for a fourth season.
On the scripted side, romantic comedy The Baker and The Beauty will be adapted for Russian audiences and our comedy sitcom, Your Family or Mine is to be remade in the Ukraine as well. We also just secured a third series commission in Greece by Alpha TV.
CEETV: Do you expect to close many deals during the market?
It’s rare to sign deals for brand new shows on the spot, but we do expect to further existing negotiations during the market.
CEETV: What are your objectives in terms of sales, which countries do you want to focus on more from the CEE region this year?
Paula: NATPE provides the perfect opportunity to meet clients who don’t always attend every other global market, so we are there to have a presence and promote our portfolio to people we may otherwise not meet.
As an independent company in a market which is dominated by bigger firms, we are looking to expand our production capabilities. We avoid cherry-picking territories to focus on and instead look to create structures and models where several broadcasters from different regions can work together and take advantage of economies of scale through regional production hubs.
CEETV: This month we'll see the inaugural edition of the PITCH & PLAY LIVE format competition, organized by CEETV and NATPE. Is Keshet looking into the potential of the region when it comes to developing new formats?
Paula: There are so many original ideas coming out of the CEE and CIS regions, so we are very open to acquiring new IP which could make a great addition to our existing catalogue. Russia and Ukraine are producing some extremely good dramas, especially in the procedural crime genre, for example. We’re excited about PITCH AND PLAY LIVE because it’s a platform for local creators to showcase their ideas and creativity. Until now there hasn’t been such a platform so it’s a step in the right direction to raise the profile of the content being produced in the region.