Yes Studios on the Israeli TV export market
Hayley Bull Director
In this episode of ‘Inside Content - the TV Industry Podcast’, I speak with Danna Stern, Managing Director of Yes Studios. Danna is in charge of sales, distribution and development of premium Israeli content for international platforms.
Danna talks us through her role at Yes Studios and her transition from the acquisition side of the business to production and commissioning. “The global landscape has shifted from acquisition being the key driver of subscriptions to original programming being the real differentiators”. She explains that she realised that production should be the company's key focus, when as a local buyer for a single platform she struggled to secure the rights she needed and compete with global streamers.
A key highlight of the episode was discussing Fauda, a Yes Studios original production, which has received critical acclaim and was the first foreign language acquisition for Netflix. Danna explains that it was this deal where they learnt what it means to launch a global show and how to localise it, whether that is subtitles, dubbing etc. She discusses how Fauda raised Yes Studios profile, opened up new opportunities and served as a business case for Israeli local productions and adaptations for distribution. As the appetite grows globally, Yes Studios have started developing for the international market and working with Israeli creators and channels that don’t have distribution - she explains that they “are at the bridge of making content travel”.
Danna explains that the distribution landscape has changed, with some players taking all the risks and others taking none. She discusses how the global streamers are pivoting their strategy and are willing to take more risks, for example Netflix going after non-scripted programming. Danna explains that previously non-scripted series were impossible to place as a key focus has always been feature films. On the other hand, she explains that regional channels and regional platforms are taking less risk, with the realisation that these acquisitions might not be the differentiator that they once were. She explains that as a result that it is much harder for foreign language acquisitions to get on some of these channels, as either they are producing their own content, they are competing with the streamers and there is a lot of content available. She explains that broadcasters are more averse to change, slower to react and have become more cautious. With the rise of vertical integration and D2C platforms utilising their own content on their services, Danna explains that this provides a great opportunity for Yes Studios with lots of new buyers entering the market. As a studio “we have product that we can then sell, then as a producer it’s great because I have these buyers that want to go internationally and we are an international producer”.
Danna discusses the successful Israeli export market and that there is no shortage of Israeli shows and formats in the market such as shows, Shtisel and Your Honor, to name just a few. She says that one of their strengths is that they are natural storytellers and orators and “that we do lead very interesting lives”. Danna explains that the regulation of the Israeli production market has been beneficial, which stipulates that they need to spend 8% of their revenue on original Hebrew speaking programming. This has resulted in them being able to take bigger creative risks with their productions - taking on newer voices and talent and exploring new genres.
Other topics discussed include their highly engaged and international social community for their shows, Shtisel and the impact of Covid-19.
Here is a breakdown of the topics discussed in this episode:
[03:29] How has the media landscape changed in relation to acquisition and original content programming?
[05:50] What were the key learnings from your partnership with Netflix on Fauda?
[09:23] How has the distribution landscape changed?
[15:04] How has vertical integration and D2C services impacted Yes Studios?
[17:29] Why is the Israeli TV export market so successful?
[19:13] How does the regulation of the Israeli TV production impact your business?
[26:25] Can you tell us about your engaged social media communities, in particular Shtisel?
[35:11] What impact has COVID-19 had on local productions?
[40:01] What upcoming shows are you most excited about?
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