This week telly-avivwe were lucky enough to attend the very first Tel Aviv TV Formats conference. The event was put on by Israel’s Import and Export Ministry in consultation with Israel’s international players in the TV Market, Keshet, Armoza and Dori, and domestic TV companies, Gil Fomats, Yes! and Reshet.

The conference attracted broadcasters and distributors from all over the world, with delegates from India, Turkey, Denmark, Netherlands, Korea, Africa, US, UK, France. Its popularity shouldn’t be surprising – the destination is beautiful, the food is delicious, and the weather is great, but most importantly Israel’s track record in scripted and unscripted TV is pretty phenomenal, even to the most jaded TV doyenne, and totally disproportionate to the size of the population. The appeal for international delegates was the sneak peek preview of content ahead of the MIPCOM frenzy in Cannes, almost all the delegates were hungry to access the next big thing in TV.

The media giant, K7’s Claire Thomas gave an excellent analysis of why Israel is so successful in such a crowded market  citing tight budgets and risk-taking as crucial ingredients. The polar opposite of the inflated budgets and creative caution seen elsewhere in the world.

Hannes Hiller, VP of Entertainment, for Germany’s ProSiebenSat1, showcased The Best Showimg_6734 in The World – a great concept of audience testing new formats in a family friendly magazine-style game-show. The producers select a number unshown formats to debut segments of in front of a live studio andhome audience. The audience votes in real-time which shows they want to see more of. A fiendishly clever display of German ef
ficiency, simultaneously filling airtime, spotting the next big thing AND saving on commissioners’ salaries! Let’s see whether the creativity will match the efficiency.

Israel’s most recognised television company, Keshet demonstrated why they are so successful domestically and internationally with a slick presentation from Keren Shahar, Managing Director of Keshet International, and panel contributions from Assaf Blecher, Keshet’s VP of Development & Content.  In no way were Keshet flexing their (significant) muscle, but it was clear that their eye for content, supported by their investment in strategy, marketing and PR really pays off – at home and abroad.

Adam Berkowitz, co-head of Television at entertainment powerhouse CAA, rounded the event off with a wonderfully relaxe
d insight to TV. He generously discussed his career, the opportunities and challenges, and a gentle but wise reminder to the audience that practice makes perfect so keep trying and keep improving, and that the US is a great market, but not the only market. Despite this, I imagine his in-box will still be flooded with hopeful emails from attendees touting the next big thing.

Finally, coming from a technology PR background myself, it was great to see Applicaster in the mix. Not as a separate digital sideshow, but part of the main TV conference, which is where they should be. Other conference organisers take note, digital is part of every industry now – IT’s not a side show and not just for nerds.