Israel's top TV mogul reflects on the future of TV

With so much great content out there, it is an especially competitive time for producers and creators, she said.

 TADMOR ENTERTAINMENT'S Zipi Rozenblum: Today, different generations consume their entertainment through different outlets. (photo credit: YAEL KIMHI ORELLE)
TADMOR ENTERTAINMENT'S Zipi Rozenblum: Today, different generations consume their entertainment through different outlets.
(photo credit: YAEL KIMHI ORELLE)

‘It’s a golden age for viewers,” said Zipi Rozenblum, head of content for Tadmor Entertainment. Tadmor is a global television and film company, based in Israel, that brings projects to the international market and has a first-look deal with Amazon-owned MGM Studios. Rozenblum, who was formerly head of content for Keshet International, reflected in a recent interview on trends in the increasingly globalized world of television and streaming and explained why Israel will continue to shine in this arena.

Speaking from her home office, where, as often as she can, she oversees the high-stress world of television in a rural location far from the traffic jams of Tel Aviv, she said, “There is a strong competition over viewers. There’s a lot of content and [it’s] quality content. All a viewer has to do is choose.”

With so much great content out there, it is an especially competitive time for producers and creators, she said. But in spite of the intensity of the competition, Israel has maintained its position as one of the most important players on the world stage and will continue to do so, according to Rozenblum.

Israel has done so well in creating television around the world because, she said, “Israel came late to television, but when we get into something, we are always on the front line.... We have limited budgets and we have learned how to work within these limits and overcome them, that’s what makes our formats so creative and cost-effective.... We know how to create highly produced content for a whole season for the price of a pilot in other countries.”

Her latest project, Hungry for Love, the first season of which is about to start filming, is a new dating format that conducts a psychological experiment linking physical and emotional hunger. The idea behind the experiment is that if people become as active in the search for love as in the preparation of their next meal, the chance they will find love increases, so there is one rule in the series: No one eats alone – if you’re hungry, go on a date.

The Netflix logo is seen on their office in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, US July 16, 2018.  (credit: REUTERS/LUCY NICHOLSON/FILE PHOTO)The Netflix logo is seen on their office in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, US July 16, 2018. (credit: REUTERS/LUCY NICHOLSON/FILE PHOTO)

Rozenblum said, “Launching a new format is always incredibly exciting, especially one with amazing partners.”

It is being produced by the Israeli network HOT Entertainment’s production company, HSCC, and the participants in the first season are Yarden Edri (Big Brother Israel) and Gur Arad (Ninja Warrior Israel). Stampede Ventures and Tadmor Entertainment co-own the series.

“Working with Stampede Ventures and HOT Entertainment Channel is a pleasure, and I am sure that this project is the first of many yet to come,” Rozenblum said. Hungry for Love is an example of the kind of clever concept that Israeli producers know how to create on shoestring budgets compared to Hollywood and much of the rest of the world. She has created many such highly successful formats, including Marry Me Now, where women are tasked with preparing a wedding and finding a groom in just a few days, which she developed for Armoza Formats and which was shown on OWN, the Oprah Winfrey network.

Emilio Schenker, CEO of Tadmor Entertainment, said, “[Hungry for Love] is a universal format that will resonate with viewers around the world, and we are excited to be able to partner with the outstanding team at Stampede and HOT Entertainment Channel on it.”

But while the idea is the key, it is not everything, Rozenblum said. 

“It’s not only about buying an idea. Everybody has ideas. It’s about taking an idea and developing it into a unique format that can travel through territories and cultures in a cost-effective method.”

But how this content is distributed to viewers is also a critical piece of the puzzle, she said.

How to distribute content

“Distributors are in a period of searching for what is the right way to get this content out there,” she said. This new golden age has been marked by binge-viewing, where all the episodes of a series are released on the same day, a departure from the old model of network television or premium cable, in which a single episode of a series aired weekly, which was sometimes called “appointment TV.”

Netflix initiated this binge-viewing.

“Netflix brought the binge but the binge became an obstacle.”

Zipi Rozenblum

It may not have been an obstacle for audiences, who could watch content their way, but for distributors, “it created problems. The content does not last enough time to get viewers hooked up long enough to [develop loyalty] to the platform. Even Netflix started releasing new seasons divided throughout different periods of time.”

Rozenblum is an avid television viewer and peppers our conversation with references to many of her favorite shows. “An example I relate to as a viewer, I’m hooked on [the Netflix series] Snowpiercer, and episodes of the third series were released weekly. That makes it last longer, and we’re probably going to see more of that.”

A weekly release of a single episode is particularly suited to non-scripted television, she pointed out, and it will make viewers return to a platform again and again.

“Non-scripted is a good solution for streamers, as it costs less to produce and it naturally creates long-lasting engagements, especially with formats that deal with elimination and voting.... For example, Dancing with the Stars, which is going to be on Disney+, has to happen once a week, you can’t binge-watch if you want to vote, you have to watch it live.” The suspense is as important as the voting, she said, since, “You don’t want someone to spoil it for you.”

The challenge for creators is “to create a situation where the viewer is committed to your content.”

But these days, commitment can vary across many platforms, which is a positive development, she said, noting that a grandmother might watch a series on a traditional television while their grandchildren tune in on their phones.

“In the past, TV was the center stage. Families, across different generations, all watched the same content on the same platform. Today, different generations consume their entertainment through different outlets. The creator’s challenge today is to create content that can be consumed through multiple platforms, content that different generations can relate to and interact with through different media.”

Asked if she could articulate a formula for success, she said, “Content is queen and the distribution platform is the queen. You create good content and enable it to be watched in many ways.”