Keshet’s Paula Cohen McHarg: CEE is a significant market for us
Right before the start of MIPCOM, Yako Molhov talked with Paula Cohen McHarg, Senior Sales Manager for Iberia, Italy, CEE & CIS, Africa, and the Middle East, Keshet International, about the company’s latest titles and recent deals in the region, as well as the company’s plans for growth in CEE.
Paula, MIPCOM starts in a few days. What are Keshet's main new highlights for the market?
We have a very exciting slate for MIPCOM this year. The first highlight is our thrilling studio-based competition Masters of Dance, which takes the dance show trend to another level. Four renowned dance masters each take on the challenge of forming a new company of dancers to compete in a series of head-to-head battles. The show is truly electrifying and has been a ratings success on Keshet Broadcasting in Israel. So much so, it was recently commissioned for a second season.
We will also present our new primetime gameshow Domination, which also recently launched on Keshet. It is a bold national TV event, which sees a studio contestant challenged to outsmart an entire country in a game of knowledge and strategy.
Another highlight is our new high-concept comedy entertainment show Celebrity Showmance from Keshet UK, which taps into the crazy world of celebrity relationships. It sees six single celebrities paired into three unlikely couples who go to hilarious heights to convince the world they’re in a real relationship – all played out under the glare of social media.
We also have a range of new dramas including Universal Television and Keshet Studios drama The Brave, which launched in primetime on NBC in September. We will also be showcasing the second season of our family drama The A Word to buyers. Season one did very well across CEE in Poland (TVP), Croatia (HRT) and Slovenia (RTV), so we’re really looking forward to launching season two.
What are your latest deals in the CEE region?
We just signed a multi-format deal with leading commercial channel Rustavi 2 in Georgia for our music talent show Master Class and trailblazing interactive talent format Rising Star. We are very excited to see how the local versions will unfold, which are due to air on the channel in spring and winter 2018 respectively.
We also signed a straight to commission deal for our International Emmy®-winning buddy comedy Traffic Light with Piknik Pictures. The local version will air on TV JOJ in Slovakia in early 2018. This follows the deal we signed recently with TV3 (MTG) in Lithuania, which licensed 140 episodes of the series.
Following the success of Your Family or Mine in Greece, Alpha TV has just commissioned a fourth series of the family sitcom, which is entitled Το Σόι σου Your Kin).
We also signed a deal with TVP in Poland for our shiny floor, family gameshow format Sure or Insure. The 81x20’series entitled Rodzina Wie Lepiej (which means Family Knows Best) launched in September and continues to outperform its 18.30 slot on TVP1.
What are broadcasters looking for the most in the region? Are there any particular markets that you are focusing on?
Broadcasters are looking for formats that are cost effective with a strong premise. They also want formats with a proven track record, which is exactly what KI is known for. We continue to deliver concepts that are fresh and original, but also fully developed, and tried and tested in their country of origin. Many of our formats also have unique elements, such as digital advancements, i.e. apps or breathtaking sets, but they’re not expensive to reproduce. We have also seen a demand for scripted reality across the region.
Which are Keshet’s best-selling titles in CEE? What are your goals in the region?
Our flagship entertainment formats continue to do well across CEE. For example, Rising Star was the leading show of the week for 10 out of 14 weeks on air in Hungary, regularly outperforming its competitor’s audience share by 100%. We hope that it will have similar success in Georgia. Similarly, Master Class has become a breakthrough hit in Hungary and other territories such as Slovenia and Greece.
In terms of our scripted shows, Traffic Light has had longstanding success in the region. It has run for ten seasons in Russia so far, totalling 200 episodes. Now in its fourth season, Your Family Or Mine has also continued to perform really well in Greece. When it first launched, it became the most watched show of the evening in the country and the highest-rated launch of the year across all networks, achieving a 126% higher audience share than its nearest competitors, including the local adaptation of US sitcom Modern Family and the 2014 UEFA Europa League.
This is an exciting time for us as we look to nurture more partnerships with regional producers to enjoy economies of scale and establish production hubs in the region. We are well versed in working with local producers and broadcasters from all over the world. For us, it’s important to enable local producers to add their own aesthetics and details, which will resonate with their audiences.
You also distribute third-party shows, including the Croatian series The Paper. Are you looking for more original ideas from the region?
Yes, we are always looking for more third party content. At KI, we pride ourselves on discovering new stories and collaborating with new talent. CEE has so much to offer. It is full of creative minds who we would love to work with.
What changes have you observed in the market during the past few years? What are your expectations for the development of the TV market?
The industry is maturing and becoming more and more established. However, it is slightly less risk averse. Broadcasters and producers are more interested in adapting scripted formats and have been reviving longstanding brands with mixed results. So we’re encouraging our clients to try something new.
You have been actively growing your presence around the world. Are there plans for investments in the CEE region?
Yes, we have been taking numerous steps to expand our global footprint and diversify our content. This year alone we have created a production hub in Germany with Munich-based Tresor TV, launched a kids’ content division and partnered with Ananey Communications Group, and opened a Mexican subsidiary, Keshet MX.
CEE is a significant market for us, with great potential. So we are actively seeking opportunities to create KI production hubs across the region and work with some of the best local talent.